Bernie Kosar believes that concussions he suffered over the years as an NFL quarterback are the cause of slurred speech that prompted his removal from the Cleveland Browns broadcast team.
Kosar, an Ohio native who was one of the most popular players in Browns history, is being replaced by Solomon Wilcots and his appeal to WKYC for reinstatement was denied. The Browns say they are looking for other media roles for Kosar. In a prepared statement, he said he was taken from broadcasts because of “my slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL.”
Kosar, 50, said he was surprised by his dismissal from the color job he’d held since 2006, telling Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot that “it came out of left field.”
“God gave me a gift for analyzing the game of football, for predicting plays and diagramming plays,” said Kosar, who led the Browns to three AFC title games and retired in 1996. “I enjoy it and I’m proud of it. I’m proud of what I know about football. I just am.”
Brooke Spectorsky, president and general manager of WKYC, said Kosar’s speech was not the issue and that he wants Kosar to be more involved with pre-game shows, radio spots and opportunities on the team’s website.
“Nowhere in our discussions with Bernie or the Browns has anything ever been said about his speech impairment due to concussions,” Spectorsky said in a statement. “That has simply nothing to do with our decision. The Browns are rebuilding their team, and in reviewing our programming we’ve decided to rebuild as well. We felt there was a better role for Bernie than doing just four preseason games and we completely understand Bernie’s iconic status with Browns fans. I know Bernie has made statements that he felt that these moves were due to his speech issues, and I reiterate that is not the case.”
Kosar told Cabot that his cognitive functions have improved since having alternative treatments for his concussion issues at the Florida Detox and Wellness Institute. “I fought to get to get to Cleveland 30 years ago and I love it here,” he said. “I love this area and I love the team. I live here, and I plan on staying here. It was my way of staying connected to the team and I will truly miss doing the games.”
The decision isn’t going over well, with Cleveland.com’s Bill Livingston writing that Kosar has an “emotional resonance with the fans as the best player on the last teams that were consistent contenders” as well as a gift for explaining what is unfolding on the field. From Livingston:
Demoting Bernie Kosar from television commentary on exhibition games is not a bad PR move by the Browns.
It’s a horrible move.
Solomon Wilcots instead. A former Bengal and Steeler? Really?
What, a former Raven isn’t available?