Bernie Kosar in August 2006.
No. 18, 19, 20
|Date of birth:November 25, 1963|
|Place of birth: Youngstown, Ohio|
|High school: Boardman (OH)|
|College: Miami (FL)|
|Supplemental Draft: 1985 / Round: 1|
|Debuted in 1985 for the Cleveland Browns|
|Last played in 1996 for the Miami Dolphins|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Bernard Joseph "Bernie" Kosar, Jr. (born November 25, 1963) is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League. Kosar played for the Cleveland Browns from 1985 to 1993 and then finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins.
- 1 Early life and high school career
- 2 College career
- 3 NFL Draft controversy
- 4 NFL career
- 5 Since retirement as an athlete
- 6 Personal life
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 NFL career statistics
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early life and high school career
An American of Hungarian descent, Kosar was born in Youngstown, Ohio, Kosar was raised in suburban Boardman. He attended Boardman High School, where he earned Parade magazine All-American honors as a senior for the 1982 season. He also gained recognition as a baseball player, especially for his pitching skills.
After being redshirted in 1982, Kosar started all 12 games as a freshman in 1983. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,328 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading the Hurricanes to an 11–1 regular season and a berth in the Orange Bowl against top-ranked Nebraska, which had won 22 consecutive games. In the game, Kosar passed for 300 yards and two touchdowns, and the Hurricanes topped the Cornhuskers 31–30 for Miami’s first national championship. Kosar earned Orange Bowl MVP honors for his performance
In 1984, he set Hurricane season records with 3,642 yards and 25 touchdowns, was a second-team All-American and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. Kosar’s career completion percentage of 62.3 percent is still a Hurricanes record.
Yet, 1984 was not without its disappointments for Kosar. He threw for 447 yards and two touchdowns, completing 25 of 38 attempts, in the Hurricanes' November 23, 1984, 47–45 loss to Doug Flutie's Boston College team when Flutie threw his famous "Hail Flutie" pass. Earlier in the same year, Kosar watched helplessly as replacement quarterback Frank Reich of the University of Maryland launched what was then the biggest comeback in college football history. Reich led the Maryland Terrapins back from a first-half deficit of 31–0 and won a 42–40 victory.
In his final college game, the 1985 Fiesta Bowl against UCLA, Kosar completed 31 of 44 passes for 294 yards. He also had two touchdown passes and one interception. Kosar graduated from college with a double major in Finance and economics. He took 18 credit hours during the spring of 1985, and an additional six during the summer in order to graduate early. 
NFL Draft controversy
Under National Football League rules at the time, only seniors and graduates could be drafted. Kosar, who was scheduled to graduate over the summer from the University of Miami's business school with a double major in finance and economics, had two years of college eligibility remaining.
At the time, underclassmen had until April 15, 1985, to notify the league about their eligibility for the April 30 regular draft. In January 1985, a Florida television report stated that Kosar had decided to forgo his two years of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. Kosar denied the report at the time, but added that he would keep his options open. At a March 15 news conference, Kosar announced that he would make himself available for the 1985 NFL Draft and that he would like to play for the Cleveland Browns in his native Ohio. After the announcement, both NFL and United States Football League teams were interested and Kosar's agent, Dr. John Geletka, even met with the USFL's commissioner, Harry Usher to confirm the USFL's interest level.
The Buffalo Bills held the first pick in the 1985 NFL Draft and signed defensive end Bruce Smith out of Virginia Tech weeks before the draft. On April 9, 1985, Mike Lynn, the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings traded two picks to the Houston Oilers to move up to the second spot in the draft in preparation of Kosar's announcement that he would enter the draft.
Later on the same day, Cleveland traded their first round picks in the 1985 NFL Draft (#7) and 1986 NFL Draft, their third round pick in 1985 (#63) and their sixth round pick in 1986 to the Buffalo Bills for their first round pick in the 1986 NFL Draft. Since the Bills had the worst record in the 1984 season, they held the first pick in both the regular NFL draft and the supplemental draft in 1985. When a selection is used in the supplemental draft, that team forfeits the pick in the next regular draft which meant that the Browns could use the Bills 1986 regular draft first round pick as the first pick in the 1985 supplemental draft.
On April 10, NFL spokesman Joe Browne said that if Kosar's paperwork was not received by the April 15 deadline then he would not be eligible for the regular draft on April 30. Browne added that if Kosar later decided to play in the 1985 season, then the league would hold a supplemental draft for Kosar and other eligible players.
Minnesota responded by stating that when Kosar announced he would turn professional, he was, in effect, declaring his intention to enter the draft. They also charged that the Browns and Kosar's agent orchestrated this scenario in order to subvert the NFL's orderly system of drafting players and claim Kosar for themselves. Mike Lynn also stated that since Kosar had hired an agent, he should have automatically lost his college eligibility and become eligible for the regular draft. The Oilers threatened to sue the NFL if Kosar was allowed to skip the regular draft in favor of the supplemental draft and Kosar's agent threatened to sue the NFL if Kosar was forced into the regular draft.
Due to the controversy, on April 12, commissioner Pete Rozelle extended the April 15 eligibility deadline for Kosar alone (who had not officially filed the paperwork for draft eligibility) and called a hearing that would take place on April 16. The four teams (Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston and Minnesota) involved in the two trades presented their case at the hearing.
On April 23, Rozelle announced that he would leave the decision up to Kosar, but permitted Minnesota to persuade Kosar to enter the regular draft with the condition that they could not negotiate a potential contract with him. This led to an April 25 news conference where Kosar announced that he wanted to go home to Ohio as a member of the Cleveland Browns and that he would forgo the regular NFL Draft and make himself eligible for the supplemental draft. On May 10, Kosar officially announced his intentions for the supplemental draft in a letter to the commissioner. On June 25, Kosar became officially eligible for the supplemental draft when he took his exam finals and the university notified the NFL front office that he had graduated. On July 3, 1985, the Browns selected Kosar and signed him to a five-year contract that same day.
On a related note, Buffalo tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the worst record in 1985 and would have had the first pick in the 1986 draft. Since that pick was traded to Cleveland and it was used for the 1985 supplemental draft, the Bills essentially forfeited the first overall pick in the 1986 draft. The Bills however, still had the rights to Jim Kelly at the time and eventually signed him. The Buccaneers ended up selecting Bo Jackson with the first pick at that draft. Ironically, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also lost the first pick of the 1986 NFL Draft because Bo Jackson refused to sign with them and entered the 1987 NFL Draft. Both the Bills and the Buccaneers lost the opportunity to have the first player in the 1986 draft play for them.
Kosar's choice of the Browns, who were coming off a 5–11 season, made him an immediate fan favorite. His friendliness with fans and on-field performance would make him one of the most popular players in team history.
Kosar was not the most athletic man to play quarterback. He was famously immobile and threw with an unwieldy sidearm motion. However, he threw with a high rate of accuracy and rarely forced throws or made bad decisions. In 1990 and 1991, Kosar set a league record by throwing 308 consecutive passes without an interception, which stood for almost two decades (surpassed by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on December 26, 2010 against the Buffalo Bills).
The Browns intended Kosar to serve as Gary Danielson's backup in Kosar's rookie season, but Danielson injured his shoulder in the fifth week. Kosar completed only half of his passes in the team’s run-oriented offense that year. Nevertheless, the team sneaked into the playoffs with an 8-8 record, losing to the Miami Dolphins in the divisional playoffs.
Danielson was injured again in the 1986 preseason, and by the time he healed, Kosar had established himself not only as the Browns' permanent starter but as one of the league's top quarterbacks. In a new, passing-focused offense, Kosar threw for 3,854 yards and finished second in the league with 310 completions. The Browns took top seed in the American Football Conference with a 12–4 record. In the divisional playoffs against the New York Jets, Kosar threw for a playoff-record 489 yards in leading the Browns to a dramatic 23–20 comeback victory in double overtime. Only John Elway's famous 98-yard drive in the following week’s AFC championship kept the Browns out of the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, the 1986 novelty song "Bernie, Bernie", to the tune of "Louie Louie" continued to receive airplay on many Ohio radio stations throughout Kosar's tenure with the Browns.
Kosar's finest year statistically was 1987. In the strike-shortened season, he completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,033 yards and 22 touchdowns and led the AFC in quarterback rating. In an AFC championship rematch against Elway’s Denver Broncos, Kosar threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns in a 38–33 loss. Kosar also made his only Pro Bowl that season.
Kosar spent most of the 1988 season sidelined with injuries but came back to throw for 3,533 yards in 1989. That year, the Browns advanced to the AFC championship for the third time in four years, losing again to the Broncos in Denver.
Kosar set a record for consecutive playoff games with at least three touchdown passes (3 games) having thrown three scores against both Indianapolis and Denver in 1987, and three against Buffalo in 1989.
Kosar's later years in Cleveland were dampened by injuries and dwindling support around him. In 1990, Kosar threw a career-high 15 interceptions as the Browns went 3–13. The following year, he came back to throw for 3,487 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also started the 1990 season by setting an NFL record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception with 286. A broken ankle sidelined him for most of the year in 1992.
In 1991, the Browns hired Bill Belichick as head coach. Not a big fan of Kosar, Belichick had signed quarterback Vinny Testaverde (Kosar's former college teammate) before the 1993 season. Early in the year, Belichick benched Kosar in favor of Testaverde. An injury to Testaverde returned Kosar to the field.
After a 29–14 loss to Denver in Week 8, the Browns released Kosar. Belichick told a press conference Kosar was suffering from "diminishing skills." The coach was not entirely incorrect as Kosar’s performance had diminished in recent years, but many Browns fans saw this rejection as an insult, and some came to the next home game in Kosar masks. In David Halberstam's book "The Education of a Coach", the author outlines how Kosar ignored the Browns' coaches play calling during the Denver game, threw a touchdown to WR Michael Jackson after calling his own pass play and then told the press afterwards he'd drawn the play "up in the dirt". Belichick made the decision to release Kosar afterwards, but said years later he had handled the situation badly, and should have arranged for a more orderly transition to the post-Kosar era.
The Dallas Cowboys then signed Kosar to a one-year, $1 million contract to fill in for an injured Troy Aikman. Kosar performed well in four games for the Cowboys and earned his only championship ring as a backup in Super Bowl XXVIII. Kosar entered the game in the final play and knelt down to close the victory. A week prior to the Super Bowl, Kosar relieved an injured Aikman in the second half of the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, completing five of nine pass attempts for 83 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Kosar spent the final years of his career with the Miami Dolphins as a backup to Dan Marino. He is perhaps best remembered among Dolphins fans for designing a trick play that helped the Dolphins top the Jets in a crucial game late in 1994. With the clock winding down and the Dolphins trailing by three, Marino pretended to spike the ball to stop the clock. He then threw the winning touchdown pass to Mark Ingram.
Kosar finished his 12-season career with 1,994 completions in 3,365 attempts for 23,301 yards and 124 touchdowns, with 87 interceptions. He also rushed for 265 yards and five touchdowns. He also held the NFL record for most consecutive completed passes without an interception, until December 26, 2010, when Tom Brady broke his record.
Since retirement as an athlete
Since retiring from football after the 1996 season, Kosar has been involved in several ventures. In 2001, he became part-owner of the Florida Panthers franchise of the National Hockey League. In 2004, he opened Bernie’s Steakhouse in South Miami, Florida. He was also publisher of Bernie’s Insiders, a magazine that covered the Browns; his role ended when it became the Orange and Brown Report at the end of 2005. The Bernie J. Kosar Jr. Charitable Trust, established in 1991, funds programs for children and young adults. Kosar has turned down feelers to run for public office.
As part of a renewed hands-on involvement with his long-time team, Kosar joined the Cleveland Browns pre-season television broadcast team as a color commentator in 2006. He returned as color commentator for the 2007 preseason and has done the color commentary ever since.
There had been talk of Kosar taking the head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of Miami. Kosar (who currently holds a seat on University of Miami's board of regents) acknowledged that he had considered taking the job before it was ultimately offered to Randy Shannon.
Kosar also purchased a minority share in the Arena Football League's Las Vegas Gladiators in 2007 and announced that the team would move to Cleveland and play under the name Cleveland Gladiators. On October 16, 2007, Kosar was named team president and CEO of the franchise. The Gladiators finished the 2008 regular season 9-7, earning them a playoff berth.
On October 17, 2009, Kosar was hired as a consultant for the Cleveland Browns.
Business and property ventures
On May 21, 2007, it was announced that Kosar would open a Bernie's Steakhouse in Cleveland's Flats East Bank Neighborhood, a $230 million mixed-use project. This steakhouse never opened. Bernie's Steakhouse in Miami had also been closed.
Following the 2008-2009 recession, Kosar and his businesses declared bankruptcy on June 19, 2009, later listing $9.2 million in assets and $18.9 million in debt. Although the initial bankruptcy filing was a Chapter 11 restructuring, the US Bankruptcy Court in Fort Lauderdale ordered the proceeding changed to a Chapter 7 liquidation on January 6, 2010. Under the restructuring Kosar's filings proposed protecting his NFL pension; it is unclear at this time[when?] if he will be able to retain his pension under the Chapter 7 proceedings. Kosar is featured in an ESPN documentary, "Broke", about the lifestyles and consequences of athletes who make poor financial decisions with their newfound wealth. It aired in January, 2013.
The Geauga County Maple Leaf newspaper, on July 15, 2010 reported that Kosar was about to lose property in Geauga County, Ohio for unpaid back taxes totaling $173,557.90. In September 2010, the trustees of Auburn Township indicated that the township was considering purchasing the land in foreclosure.
He has four children with his former wife Babette.
Kosar continues to deal with the lingering effects of several concussions he sustained during his playing career and is currently in a treatment program to alleviate his symptoms. The experimental treatment has been very helpful for Kosar, to the point where he has openly promoted the treatment in the hopes of helping other players who may have developed the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Kosar was arrested September 29, 2013, in Solon, Ohio for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
In popular culture
In the 2010 novel I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Kosar is referenced by name. The protagonist names his pet beagle Bernie Kosar. Additionally, in the 2011 film adaptation, a poster of Kosar depicting him during his football career is shown in the new bedroom of the protagonist.
NFL career statistics
- 3,365 passes attempted
- 1,994 passes completed
- 23,301 passing yards
- 124 passing touchdowns
- 87 passes intercepted
- 81.8 quarterback rating
- 269 passes attempted
- 152 passes completed
- 1,918 passing yards
- 17 passing touchdowns
- 11 passes intercepted
- 85.9 quarterback rating
- Cleveland Browns 1992 Media Guide
- ESPN College Football Encyclopedia, ESPN Books, (2005), ISBN 1-4013-3703-1. p. 160
- 1992 cleveland browns media guide
- "Bernie Kosar Career Game Log". Pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- "Kosar's Record Safe From Campbell". Myespn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- "Kosar says he would want a part of new Browns team, both as an owner and in player-personnel area". Bernie-kosar.com. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- Kosar considering Miami coaching job, AllHeadlineNews.com. URL accessed December 6, 2006
- Kosar interested in returning to alma mater, ESPN. URL accessed December 6, 2006
- Jay, Robbie (2007-10-11). "Die Hard Fans Anonymous: ARENA FOOTBALL COMING TO CLEVELAND". Diehardfansanonymous.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009 (2010-11-30). "Las Vegas franchise relocates to Cleveland for 2008 AFL season - Arena Football - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- Northeast Ohio. "Bernie's back - Kosar joins Browns as consultant to Randy Lerner". NFL Insider. cleveland.com. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- Bathon, Michael (January 9, 2010). "Bernie Kosar's assets will be sold off". Plain Dealer. Bloomberg News. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
- Bernard J. Kosar Jr., no. 09-22371, Bankr. S.D. Fla., via PACER (login req'd)
- "Diminishing tax payments by former Cleveland Brown". Geauga County Maple Leaf. July 15, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Ryder, Diane (September 22, 2010). "Auburn may buy Bernie Kosar's property". News-Herald. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Bernie Kosar happy to find treatment. Associated Press via ESPN.com. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "I Am Number Four – Bernie Kosar". February 16, 2011. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
|Miami Hurricanes starting quarterbacks