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Kobe Bryant's message hits home with Browns

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns were leery when interim coach Gregg Williams told them to expect a special guest speaker the night before their victory in Denver on Saturday.

"The last time we had a guest speaker, he talked for an hour, and that's supposed to be time we have to ourselves, so we were like, 'C'mon, man,'" safety Jabrill Peppers said Monday.

To the team's surprise, the guest speaker was a former Los Angeles Lakers great and future basketball Hall of Famer.

"Kobe Bryant walks in the building and it was like, 'OK, all right, I get it," Peppers said.

Bryant did an hour-long Q&A with the Browns, with much of the emphasis on his renowned competitive attitude, which led to him being nicknamed "the Mamba."

"The one thing you hear about, that mamba mentality, that's true," quarterback Baker Mayfield said after Saturday's 17-16 victory. "He's a dog when it comes down to it."

Peppers did not want to reveal all of Bryant's insights, but shared one that he said illustrated Bryant's message.

"He always said that he felt it was selfish when guys wouldn't shoot the open shot because of fear of what everyone else would think about them," Peppers said. "He was like, 'Me, I'm going to shoot the open shot every time. I don't care.'" Peppers said the message hit home.

"What I took away from that is that you can't be scared about what everyone else is going to think about you; be you, play the best way you can play and good things are going to happen," Peppers said.

"The big thing [from Bryant] is that it is not easy to be special," Williams said. "It is not easy to be looked at as one of the best of all time. One of the things and messages that we talk about all of the time is how can you be that person if you can't be the best of who you are? Sometimes we accept things on a particular day. That is not how you be the best of all time.

"You have to be the best of who you are, who you are genetically blessed to be and then let everything fall where they fall. He did a great job of making sure in understanding that it does not make any difference if it is a pickup game, if it is an argument or if it is a championship game, Kobe is going to win."

Bryant's visit was set up by Ron Brewer, the Browns' manager of player engagement. Williams said he is friends with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

"The fun thing was for me to stand off to the side and see how focused and attentive everybody was in the room on everything that came out of his mouth," Williams said. "That was pretty cool."