He led the University of Miami to victory after victory. The prospect of drafting him caused NFL teams to jockey, sometimes desperately and perhaps deviously, for drafting order position. His stardom is anticipated -- and expected. But against the Redskins, Bernie Kosar fell apart.
On his third pass of the game, with Redskins linemen in his face, Kosar threw a long pass intended for Clarence Weathers.
Redskins free safety Curtis Jordan, who came halfway across the field while the ball was in the air, might have been tempted to call for a fair catch. Instead, he intercepted and returned 32 yards to the Cleveland 25 to set up Washington's first touchdown.
On Cleveland's next possession, Kosar fumbled a handoff to halfback Kevin Mack, and linebacker Neal Olkewicz fell on the loose ball at the Browns' 37. Joe Theismann hit Gary Clark for a 19-yard touchdown, and Kosar was faced with an early 14-0 deficit.
When the Browns got the ball back, his next pass landed in the arms of the Redskins' Vernon Dean. Many fans in Cleveland Stadium started booing.
The rookie finished the half with seven completions in 17 attempts for 84 yards, but the Browns could not put together any scoring threats.
So Coach Marty Schottenheimer decided veteran Gary Danielson, who completed 61 percent of his passes in the first 4 1/2 games before injuring his right shoulder, had sufficiently recovered to relieve Kosar.
Danielson's presence seemed to inspire both the offense and the fans. On the Browns' second possession of the second half, Cleveland scored on a 41-yard drive capped by a nifty 14-yard pass to Ozzie Newsome.
Late in the game, the Browns had two chances to tie. But tight end Harry Holt fumbled a catch at the Redskins' 21 early in the fourth quarter, and the Browns offense, after a 16-play drive, stalled on fourth down at the Redskins' 18 with 2:27 to go.
Danielson was nine of 15 for 99 yards.
"I thought it (replacing Kosar) was the appropriate move at the time and I made that decision," Schottenheimer said. "No, I'm not ready to say Gary is the starting quarterback. I'll make that decision later this week."
As for Kosar and Danielson, both seemed content with the arrangement. "I think the offense has confidence in both of us," said Kosar. "That's a coaching decision (as to who starts) and I try to stay away from that as much as possible."
He admitted he was disappointed in his performance, but would not speculate on whether his benching was justified. "We were out of rhythm in the first half," he said.
Danielson, a nine-year veteran, answered questions with a huge ice pack taped on his shoulders. "I was mentally prepared to go in at any time," he said. "That's what they pay me for. I feel comfortable coming off the bench."
He offered words of encouragement to Kosar. "I've had much worse halves than Bernie had," he said. "He's got to learn that there are some plays that just aren't there, but he's going to be a great player."