Bernie Kosar’s commentary of the Browns-Rams game has come into focus after Rams head coach Jeff Fisher mentioned how he had lost respect for the former Browns quarterback after hearing the comments he made about their quarterback, Kellen Clemens. This prompted Peter King of the recently started theMMQB.com to chime in and question whether Kosar was drinking during the broadcast. This type of commentary is not new and Kosar has been evaluating quarterbacks like this since he was hired by the Browns to comment on games, which is why he has been retained in that capacity. Fisher standing up for his player makes sense and is understandable but that does not make what Kosar did wrong or in poor taste.
Personally, I enjoyed Kosar’s commentary, not because he is Bernie Kosar, the former quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, but because he was funny and right. Clemens is not a good quarterback. If Kosar had made these type of comments in a pregame or postgame environment, no one would care because that is his job. Shannon Sharpe and Terry Bradshaw make these types of stinging comments before and after games all season long. Kosar is playing to a local audience and is no different from the likes of a Hawk Harrelson or any passionate local broadcaster discussing their team to a local viewership.
Because of all of the abuse he took as a player, Kosar’s voice and his posture have been impacted. Kosar is not on the broadcast with Jim Donovan because he sounds good. In fact, there are people who think he is a difficult listen because of the impact his playing career has had. Kosar knows the team, knows the players, and knows football. That is why he is on the broadcast. It comes out of one of the worst sounding voices on television, which has prompted some fans and viewers to suggest that Kosar sounds drunk. Punch drunk, perhaps, from a game that did not take concussions seriously during his playing career and left his body beaten and broken, but not due to alcohol. As a result, Peter King’s comments may have come out slightly harsher than they were intended to sound and while Kosar will let it roll off of his back, that might have been in as poor taste as anything Kosar said. For people who are not put off by Kosar’s voice, like me, enjoy it. He breaks down defenses as a reflex and is able to diagnose what is going on with the field with tremendous accuracy and give insight to to people who want it.
Kosar is extremely tough on quarterbacks, regardless of what teams for which they play. He will hide it in his word use but it is clear who he thinks is a good quarterback and who he thinks can be. The reason it is clear is because Kosar breaks down the defense before the play and is expecting the quarterback to make the right read or take advantage of a weakness, which is something he did his entire playing career. He gets frustrated when guys make the wrong reads or make bad decisions and play right into the strength of the defense, whether they play for the Browns or their opponent.
The most stinging commentary of an opposing player Kosar has made in his stint in the booth might have been in a game against the Chicago Bears a few years ago and former Florida quarterback, Chris Leak. He was pretty tough on a young man trying to land a roster spot with the Bears. There was no outrage from Lovie Smith or anyone else and no one ever mentioned it. It was no different than the level of criticism he had for Clemens on Thursday. It was not wrong then and it is not wrong now.
Perhaps the most stinging commentary in Kosar’s history has been saved for some of the Browns head coaches. In particular, any head coach the Browns have had that did not allow their quarterbacks to audible at the line of scrimmage and were expected to run plays into the worst possible defensive looks. Go back to some of the games in the past like with Colt McCoy, where Kosar is not hiding his disdain for that type of coaching and how much it limits what a quarterback can do within an offense. He is refreshingly honest and does not hold back his thoughts.
The Browns organization has said they will review the comments made by Kosar from this past week’s game. Whether they will feel pressure to really act on them remains to be seen, but they knew what they were getting into when Kosar was here before this front office arrived. Their decision to keep him may have been out of loyalty but this brand of commentary was something they were aware. For people like me, Kosar is something that makes preseason football more interesting. He is not afraid to talk about players on both teams and make judgments based on what he has seen, both good and bad. The fact that Bernie is not compelled to be overly ‘rah-rah’ and love everything the team does brings an element of honesty into the broadcast booth.
Whether he is in the booth or a guest on a radio show, Kosar has always been an enthusiastic supporter of this team and wants success for it like every other die-hard fan of this team wants whether he is in the broadcast booth or not. The fact that he does not just act like every move or every player is going to be great makes him realistic rather than delusional. In many ways, he represents the voice of the fans in the booth with an added perspective of knowing the game and the position of quarterback. I hope the Browns ultimately decide to come out and say that while they appreciate the fact that the Rams are protecting their guys, that they like the type of honest broadcasting Kosar brings. If they ultimately opt to go in another direction, this season or next, and bring in someone else to put in the booth with Donovan for television broadcasts, I hope they can bring the same kind of honest evaluation that Kosar does. Nothing Kosar did was new or out of the ordinary in the Rams game, so those who have decided to be offended now, were not watching before, will continue not to watch after this issue is resolved. Whether or not Kosar is retained (hopefully he will be) should not be based on his career as a player or supporter, but rather what he brings to the booth. As for Clemens, he is a 30 year old quarterback trying to make the Rams roster as a third string quarterback who has never distinguished himself since entering the NFL. So really, how wrong was Kosar in what he said?