Monday, November 8, 1993. A day that will forever live in infamy with every Cleveland Browns fan worldwide.
This was the day beloved quarterback Bernie Kosar was given his walking papers and released by the franchise he grew up cheering for and hoped to lead to the promised land of Super Bowl glory.
Unfortunately, Kosar would never be able to see this through as on this fateful day then Browns coach uttered the infamous words “diminishing skills” when discussing why they released the fan favorite Kosar.
“Basically, it came down to his production and a diminishing of his physical skills,” Belichick said at a news conference.
Kosar had posted a 3-3 record in his six starts in 1993 but fell out of favor with Belichick as he wanted to call his own plays, while Belichick thought otherwise. Kosar was changing plays at the line of scrimmage, something Belichick asked him repeatedly to stop doing.
Kosar didn’t care. He felt he knew the game so well and when to adjust to what the defense showed before the snap. Belichick had enough and benched the beleaguered QB 3 games prior to his release.
As word trickled through the media of the star QB’s release, fans were angry at the coaches and management for allowing such a prominent figure of the franchise be sent away in less than amicable fashion.
Fans expressed their outrage via sports talk radio lashing out against anyone and everyone who may have played a role in the falling star’s exit out of town.
I remember as a young kid in grade school sitting in class that cool November day. Everything was business as usual, the Browns were 5-3 and coming off a loss at home to the Denver Broncos where Kosar regained starter status due to Vinny Testaverde separating his shoulder a week earlier.
In the Denver game, Kosar went back to his old habits of changing the plays at the line of scrimmage something that made Belichick cringe. The Browns, down 16-0 at one point, couldn’t come back from the deficit dropping the game 29-14 and dropping Kosar to depths so deep in the coach’s dog house he would never be able to crawl back out.
After meeting with then owner Art Modell, Belichick secured the support of the man who treated Kosar like the son he never had.
He agreed with Belichick’s assessment of Kosar and that the quarterback’s best days were behind him.
And then, across the school PA system I heard the words uttered:
“May I have your attention, the Browns have released Bernie Kosar.”
What? Really? This can’t be true! That’s how big Kosar was in this town.
So big that they announced it across the PA system at an elementary school in the middle of the school day.
So big that fans marched down to old Cleveland Municipal Stadium to demand refunds for their season ticket purchases.
So big that sports talk radio stations were receiving faxes (that’s right I said faxes?) back-to-back of fans outraged over the announcement made that day.
Kosar was a beloved figure and one of the top QB’s in franchise history. His release sent shockwaves through the community that cool November day and the franchise is still struggling to find the next franchise QB 22 years later. – GC
Next: No. 19: 1955 NFL Championship