|Topics Covered in this Edition:
|-Bernie Kosar Month
|-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
|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