CLEVELAND — The Browns are set to take on the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon in Cleveland's home opener at FirstEnergy Stadium, and while the team finalizes their game plan and roster decisions ahead of the matchup, there's one thing they need from the fans — a full crowd.
On Friday, head coach Kevin Stefanski made a request of all Browns fans attending the game Sunday.
"Coach Stefanski wants you in your seats when kickoff hits," Stefanski said. "No empty seats and I want full-throated effort for 60 minutes."
With kickoff at 1 p.m., many fans will spend their mornings tailgating in parking lots across Downtown Cleveland, especially the Muni Lot, and sometimes those pregame parties can get a little wild. But Stefanski hopes that fans can have fun before the game while also making an effort to get to their seats in time for the start of the game.
"So get out of the Muni Lot, get in your seat and you can go back to the Muni Lot after the game," Stefanski said to fans.
After facing a raucous crowd in Arrowhead Stadium in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Stefanski is keenly aware of how much a crowd can impact a game and is hopeful that fans will hear his request and be ready to bring the noise and the energy from the very start.
"You make a difference and I really believe that. Home-field advantage in the NFL is just such a big deal and I think our fans make a difference — when you talk about third down, fourth down, we'll be looking for any delays of game from them or false starts, those type of things that are direct correlation to our crowd. And when we're on offense, looking to hear a pin drop," Stefanski said.
Sunday will be the first time in two years that FirstEnergy Stadium will be able to host a full 67,895 fans in the stands, and the first time Stefanski and many of the coaches and players will experience the rowdiness of the Dawg Pound.
Players like Myles Garrett, who has played in FirstEnergy Stadium without the COVID-19 restrictions that reduced the capacity last year, said there's no way to prepare their teammates for the kind of energy the fans can bring on game day.
“No just got to experience it. It’s just different,” Garrett said when asked if he was preparing the rookies and new players for the home crowd.
With a fan base as passionate as Cleveland's and a team with more promise than they've seen in decades, the stadium, as running back Nick Chubb said, will "be rockin'" on Sunday.
Stefanski said he can't wait for that.
"Excited to see that, excited to experience that," Stefanski said. "They deserve to watch us play in a full capacity stadium...looking forward for them getting that opportunity."
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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