BEREA, Ohio — While homecoming is typically a tradition reserved for college and high school, it's one that the NFL might as well adopt this weekend. In addition to Tom Brady returning to Foxborough for his first game against the New England Patriots as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski will find himself in the familiar confines of Minnesota as his team takes on the Vikings.
Prior to becoming the Browns head coach ahead of the 2020 season, Stefanski spent the first 14 years of his NFL coaching career as an assistant in Minnesota. According to Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, Stefanski's experience -- which most recently included a stint as the Vikings' offensive coordinator in 2019 -- could give the Browns an advantage in their Week 4 matchup.
"Anytime you have that much experience against a certain scheme and a defense that has a lot of the same players, you have some insights and tips and tricks of what to look for -- little nuances," Mayfield said. "I know [the Vikings] are going to have their wrinkles for us, there's no doubt about that. But yeah, just those little tips and reminders that he's going to have, we have to pay attention to those."
Mayfield, himself, is no stranger to what it's like to face a former team. After transferring from Texas Tech following his freshman season, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner played against the Raiders three times during his time at Oklahoma -- all three games of which resulted in Sooners wins.
Stefanski, for his part, has already downplayed the personal significance of Sunday's matchup. But according to his quarterback, there's no question that the matchup in Minnesota will mean something special to Stefanski -- especially if it results in a Browns win.
"Anytime you have familiarity with a system -- 14 years is a long time. I think it would mean a lot to him," Mayfield said. "He's not going to tell anybody here that, but we have a lot of people here who have familiarity with the Minnesota Vikings franchise. Like I said, anytime that you play people that you know, it makes it more fun -- just a little bit more friendly competition."