Browns History Newsletter - Vol 1

Volume 1
July, 2001

Topics Covered in this Edition:
-Bernie Kosar Month
-Site Updates
-Shady Deals - The Kosar Draft Pick
-Great Game Recap - 1987 AFC Divisional Game
-Mug Shots - Bill Bellichick

Bernie Kosar Month is apon us - This second edition of the Cleveland Browns History Newsletter is totally dedicated to the Great Bernie Kosar. Kosar was perhaps the most popular Brown of all time, leading Cleveland to 3 conference championship games in 4 years. Enjoy!

Site Updates - In honor of Bernie Month, we have put together his biography in the Bio section. We have also named our official site mascot. The mascot is my 1 year old dog, Bernie. You can find his picture by following the link on our front page. As you will see, he is ready to play. Also, in our retired number section, the latest polls show Kosar lagging in second place behind the Wizzard of Oz.

Draft Gems - Even though this section is usually dedicated to players that were picked up in late rounds but ended up contributing to the team, BK is this month's draft gem because of the way he was acquired. Just about every NFL team thought that BK was a "can't miss". By the end of his sophomore year at Miami, he had eclipsed almost every major passing record at a school where quarterbacks were a tradition. Kosar contemplated coming out early to be drafted, but his dream was to play for the Cleveland Browns, and it was Art Modell's dream to have BK play in C-town. Cleveland, coming off of the potential demise of the USFL, didn't own a first round draft pick, as they took Kevin Mack with a supplemental pick in '84. No trades seemed to be in the works, so Kosar didn't declare. In one of their proudest moments, the powers that be in the front office pulled perhaps the best trade in team history. Buffalo, the team with the worst record in the NFL in '84, had the first pick of the supplemental draft. Cleveland's FO knew that Buffalo wasn't interested in Kosar, because they had just drafted Jim Kelly of the USFL in the previous supplemental. The Browns and Bills swapped a bunch of picks, and when the dust cleared, Cleveland had the first pick in the supplemental draft. Kosar then made himself eligible, and Cleveland picked him up. The rest is history.

Mug Shots - The "Choke" Factor - Mug shots features boneheads, trouble-makers, and law-breakers. That's why I can't think of a better Mug Shot than this: As good as the trade for BK was, the circumstances of his release were equally as bad. Number 19. Mr. Cleveland. "The smartest quarterback in football." He was the man that who us to the doorstep 3 times in 4 tries. He was the epitome of Cleveland football, perhaps even the most popular player in Browns history, but by 1990, BK was on the DL and the Brownies were 3-13. Coach Carson had been given his exile, and the Browns were ready to enter a new era, with a seasoned veteran running the O and the hottest new coaching prospect guiding the team. Bill Bellichick (we will refer to him as BelliCHOKE) was the most sought after head coach in the biz, guiding the unstoppable NY Giants defense to 2 Super Bowl wins. He was Art's coach of choice, and as I remember he was the fan's choice as well. Once signed, Art declared that he was "the last coach that I will hire." It's ironic, but that one statement ended up having a degree of truth, and it also helped to bring down not only Kosar, but the entire organization. Bellichoke envisioned turning the Browns into an NFC East style team. This recipe had been proven, as New York and Washington had 3 Lombardi trophies between them in the last 5 years. 'Choke seemed to be doing something right as the Browns ended the first half of the season with a 4-4 record. Three close losses ended the season, but BK still had 18 TD's and seemed to be back to his old self. The next season was a huge disappointment, as the Browns finished with a 7-9 record. Bernie was hurt again, and only played 7 games. Cleveland went out that off-season and acquired Vinnie Testaverde, who would be a reliable backup for C-town should Bernie get hurt. The '93 season started off with a bang, as the Browns went 3-0, including a decisive victory against the 49ers. However, BORING-chick's style of offense was beginning to wear thin with BK. Kosar's defiance of the coach was wearing thin with 'Choke too. Kosar would audible out of up-the-middle running plays, and throw touchdowns. Things finally erupted in game 3. Kosar audibled out of a 'Choke play again. It went for a TD again, but this time, Coach and QB had a spat on the sidelines, and BK was pulled from the game (I believe). From then on, Kosar was pulled almost immediately game after game in favor of Vinnie. Finally, in week 8, The press conference we all dreaded came out. BK was officially put on waivers, after 9 seasons of hard work. "Diminishing Skills" still rings in my head, but later rumors would fly about the injury factor as well. To this day, I know of only one person that though BK had diminishing skills...Bellichoke himself. The bottom line in all of this was that 'Choke was Art's man, and BK was 'Choke's decision.

Draft Debacles - What's the opposite of a late round sleeper (Gem)? It's a first round flop. We will be discussing this more and more in newsletters to come, but this month's debacle goes to the front office, for all of the OL they DIDN'T draft in the Kosar era. Everyone knew he wasn't mobile, and defenses keyed in on him because they knew he couldn't get away. After the Browns paroled BK out of 'Choke town, they cited injuries. That just beats the hell out of me. How can the guy stay healthy if he's chewing on the midfield logo every week?

Browns Fast Fact - Only 2 offensive linemen have been drafted by the Browns in the first 3 rounds of the draft since '75. Steve Everitt was a 1st rounder in 1993, and Greg Rackozy was a 2nd rounder in '91.
This Month in Browns History:
July 14, 1966 - Future HOF'er Jim Brown announces his retirement from football - read about it HERE
July 17, 1982 - Charles White, the #1 pick of the Browns in '80, spends about a month in the hospital to receive treatment for drug abuse.
July 26, 1946 - The Browns meet for their first ever training camp at Bowling Green State University

In Your Face! - The Dallas Cowboys were poor evaluators of talent in the early '90s. This is evidenced by their drafting of such players as Aikman, Emmit, Irvin, Ken Norton Jr, and Larry Allen, among others. This is even further evidenced by their acquisition of an "injury prone" quarterback with "diminishing skills." (I hope by now you have detected my attempt at sarcasm) Dallas picked Bernie up as an insurance policy for their SB run. Kosar paid them dividends, too. In 4 games for the 'Boys, he completed nearly 60% of his passes, and threw for 3 TD's (0 INT). The Cowboys went on to win the Super Bowl, and BK took the final snap to get his ring. That's the ultimate IN YOUR FACE!!

In Your Face! II - The very next year, BK signed on with the Dolphins, as a Dan Marino Insurance Policy. Kosar filled in admirably for Dan the Man, but his most memorable play must have been that little trick play at the end of the game. Kosar was leading a comeback drive against XXX late in the game. Kosar would complete a pass, then spike the ball to get a game clock stoppage. Well, Kosar used these seemingly ordinary plays to set up the game winning score. After one completion, Kosar's receiver started trotting off the field as BK signaled for another spike. As the ball was snapped, Bernie faked towards the ground and looked upfield to see his wide open man (whom everyone thought ran off the field, but actually stopped 3 feet short of the sideline). Touchdown!! Yet another example of diminishing skills

The Here and Now - BK is part of a group that has purchased the NHL's Florida Panthers. Kosar holds an undisclosed minority share of the club, along with David Epstein, Mike Maroone, and Allan Cohen. The team was bought for approx. $101M that includes over 80% in cash. Side note - I sincerely hope that this new ownership group didn't use BK's name recognition the same way Lerner and the boys did. Let's all root for him to be an ACTIVE part of the team!!

Great Games - Browns 23, Jets 20 - This game may have been the defining moment of BK's career. Cleveland, having come off of one of it's best years in franchise history, was a favorite to beat the Jets. New York had gone 10-1 before limping into the playoffs at 10-6. NBC analyst Pauly Mac put a "curse" on the Jets, and they miserably proved him right. On the day of the Cleveland game, he agreed to take the curse off, but he said "It won't matter anyway." That's what all Clevelanders were hoping for too, since their last playoff celebration came a year before the AFL-NFL merger in '69. It wasn't to come easy, though. Even though the Jets had fallen apart in the regular season, they were still a dangerous threat, and they proved it right away by scoring on a 42 yard pass that came from a flea-flicker. BK quickly struck back, though, as he connected for 37 yards to RB Herman Fontenot. In the second quarter, the teams traded field goals, and the Browns went into the locker room tied up at 10. NY added a FG in the 3rd, and they took a 3 point lead into the fourth quarter. Cleveland fans began to get a bit antsey, and they had good reason. The Jets seemed to be owning the game at this point. The fourth quarter remained scoreless, but the Browns were beginning to muster a drive. The Browns were on the Jet's 2 yard line, looking to score, when memories of Brian Sipe and Red Right 88 flashed before Clevelander's eyes again. Kosar, on third down, gunned a pass to the double-covered Webster Slaughter that was intercepted by Russell Carter. Cleveland forced a punt, and got the ball back on their own 17, but amazingly, Kosar, who held the NFL record for lowest interception percentage, threw another one. This time the Jets capitalized on a TD run by Freeman McNeil. It looked like the Browns would blow another playoff game. They were down 20-10 with a little over 4 minutes remaining. Cleveland fans began the journey home, as they thought that another season was over. Things weren't to get much better, when on 2nd and 24, Kosar threw an incomplete pass. But wait!! There was a flag on the play! This was the one spark that the Browns needed. As BK was letting that ill-fated pass go, sack specialist Mark Gastineau planted his helmet into our QB's chest. The ref marched off 15 yards, and gave the Browns a first down. Kosar completed 4 passes in a row, wich set up a 2 yard Kevin Mack score. Although the onside kick was recovered by the Jets, they couldn't manage a first down, and Cleveland had the ball back with little time remaining. A penalty and a deep ball to Slaughter set up a game tying field goal with just seconds to spare. Overtime yeilded no winner, so double OT was required. Mark Mosley missed a game winner in the first extra period, but he came back to win the game in 2OT. Kosar ended up with 489 passing yards, an NFL playoff record, and he showed to the world what all of Cleveland already knew: He was a true NFL great. Bernie had many great games before and after, but the Jets game will always be remembered as simply "Kosar."

Next month in the newsletter - Not only will we be bringing you your regular features (Mug Shots - Dave Mayes, Draft Gems - Reggie Langhorne, Great Games - '54 championship), but we will also introduce a couple of others. Highway to the Hall will profile Hall of Famer Frank Gatski. One that Got Away features NFL great Len Dawson, a Super Bowl and HOF QB that the Browns traded away. What Were They Thinking? shows why the Browns thought that the Mike Phipps for Paul Warfield trade was a good one at the time. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter to make sure you stay in tune with this information as well as site updates, fast facts, and the month in history!!! FDM

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