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Stefanski, Berry named to The Athletic’s 40 Under 40 list

Browns head coach/general manager combo earn praise as rising stars shaping the NFL.

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Kevin Stefanski Introductory Press Conference Photo by: 2020 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are heading into the 2020 NFL season with a general manager/head coach combo of Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski who, collectively, are just three years older than New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

While there are other youthful combinations around the league, for example general manager Ryan Pace (age 43) and head coach Matt Nagy (42) with the Chicago Bears or general manager Jon Robinson (44) and head coach Mike Vrabel (44) with the Tennessee Titans, Berry (33) and Stefanski (38) may stand alone among their youthful peers.

The changes to the league’s standard offseason program means we haven’t seen Stefanski in action or how the roster that Berry has built will mesh together, but that hasn’t stopped The Athletic from recognizing Stefanski and Berry on their NFL 40 Under 40 List.

The list, part of the site’s Future of Football series, attempts to identify a number of the “brightest rising stars across all facets of the NFL” and includes coaches, front office executives, agents and members of the league office.

Stefanski, who is the latest coordinator to receive his first head coaching with the Browns, is one of five head coaches on the list, with The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones writing that:

“He’s a first-time head coach with a roster built to win, a quarterback facing a make-or-break season and an ownership group that changes everything every 18-36 months. This is Stefanski’s first job outside the Vikings’ organization, and though he’s been impressive and thoughtful throughout his first few months on the job, he’s yet to coach his Browns team for even a practice. He’s sharp and organized, but can he be the guy to guide the Browns back to the playoffs?”

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Berry, the youngest general manager in the league, is the only GM on the list, with Jones writing:

“The youngest general manager in NFL history was aggressive in his first offseason as the Browns look to boost and support Baker Mayfield. Berry needs Mayfield to be good to avoid the kind of never-ending quarterback search that always plagued his predecessors, but he also has to continue to add to the defense for the Browns to end their long playoff drought. Berry has also headed up the Browns’ #BeTheSolution campaign as the franchise tackles social justice issues. Berry is well regarded in NFL circles, but the job of trying to return the Browns to NFL respectability is not an easy one.”

Being on the list is nice, but it is obviously no guarantee of success.

But if Stefanski and Berry can live up to the praise, the Browns will be in good hands for several years to come.