Posted: 9:21 a.m. Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
By Chris Pokorny
Cleveland Browns color commentator Bernie Kosar was unfairly criticized by St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and attached by Sports Illustrated's Peter King, and was forced to apologize.
There is an affection that Cleveland Browns fans have for quarterback Bernie Kosar. He is beloved by many not only for his time as a player and some of the personal interactions he has had with fans, but also for the commentary he has provided on the team's preseason broadcasts, along with Jim Donovan, for years.
When someone first listens to Kosar speak, they are under the impression that he is drunk, based on the speech he has. We are well aware of the personal issues Kosar has had, but the fact is this is how he speaks, plain and simple. It grows on you. His commentary and analysis is very good, from explaining some pre-snap reads and coverages to telling a few personal stories based on interactions with players.
Then, the best part comes when he criticizes players down the depth chart -- particularly those on the other team -- for making mistakes that could cost them a roster spot. Are families of opposing teams listening, hoping their "kid" can make it? Maybe, and I understand why they don't want to hear criticism. But guess what? Kosar's criticism is nothing compared to what these players will face in their career. I've always felt it's a little bit tongue-in-cheek, too -- Kosar knows very well that he's being a little over-the-top critical, but it's part of what makes...the second half of a preseason game watchable. I don't tune out because I want to hear what Kosar has to say.
What is the point of all of this? Apparently, St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher heard some of Kosar's critiques and responded to his remarks, but not in a very kind fashion (you can listen to Fisher's comments here):
"First off, let me say this: the Cleveland Browns' organization is a first class organization from top to bottom and it has been that for years and years and years. I guess I'm a little disappointed. I feel bad for them that they had someone doing their broadcast feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team and coaches for that matter.
I'm just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and this game. To be honest with you, I lost a lot of respect for him. It's highly unlikely he knew anything about our football team, but felt the need to make those comments. I don't think they were justified.
Bernie's got his issues; they're well documented. Kellen [Clemens] played well, he played hard, he made plays."
Maybe Fisher should have had his backup quarterback and receivers more prepared? To provide some context, Kosar prefaced his criticism of Kellen Clemens with the fact that he had an opinion of him from a terrible preseason outing he had a member of the New York Jets. That came back in 2008, when Clemens went 4-of-6 for 31 yards. What did Clemens do five years later, right after Kosar announced his displeasure at having to watch Clemens? He got hit and threw an interception. Choice.
Also, is Fisher okay with half of his receivers dropping easy passes? Kosar calling the players out made him lose respect for him? I thought Fisher of all people would have some thick skin.
And then, there is Peter King of Sports Illustrated. I have been a big supporter of King for over a decade, while others on here have expressed their disdain for him. I was set off by his take on the Kosar situation, though:
EARTH CITY, Mo.--My question for Kosar after comments in Cle-StL preseason game: Were you drinking? Good guy. But waaay over the top here.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 11, 2013
Kosar called WRs, including 1st-rd pick Tavon Austin "horrible.'' Said their parents "would be embarrassed'' if they were watching game ....— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 11, 2013
Kosar on Kellen Clemens: "Bless me Father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter."— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 11, 2013
If Kosar's judgment has been impacted by concussions, then the Browns should be heavily criticized for putting him on a 3-hr telecast,— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 11, 2013
Don't go saying, "Bernie doesn't know what he's saying because of concussions." Doesn't work that way. If you're on air, you're responsible.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 11, 2013
King is way out of line with his comments for a few reasons. Here is the actual exchange and context between the Browns' announcers, after a drop by a St. Louis receiver:
Jim Donovan: "Davis, throwing, incomplete, off the hands of his intended receiver, Nick Johnson, who was free out over the 35-yard line. St. Louis will have to give the ball back on a punt."
Bernie Kosar: "Yeah, a blitz to the top of the screen. It's actually not a bad throw...these St. Louis receivers are horrible. That's a drop there on the out-and-up on the go. The guy does his break four yards in front of the DB."
Jim Donovan: (laughing) "What if some of their parents are watching?"
Bernie Kosar: "(laughing with him) I would be embarrassed."
First off, Kosar never said anything about WR Tavon Austin being horrible. He was generalizing about the receivers based on a few drops and poorly run routes. I guarantee you that King did not listen to what Kosar actually said, and is just going based off Fisher and a few other people who are being critical of him. If King had a shred of journalistic integrity left in him, he would apologize for making such hack comments and failing to do any true digging into the matter. Also, maybe Sports Illustrated should be heavily criticized for giving King "his own website." Does anyone actually care about that thing besides his standard Monday column?
A few other media members wanted to jump in on the "let's slam Kosar" party:
Bernie Kosar the QB > Bernie Kosar the talent evaluator.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 11, 2013
Really, Daniel? Ever heard of Jimmy Graham? Sounds like we've got another hack on our hands who didn't bother to do any actual digging.
Even if Kosar is biased toward the Browns...who cares? This is a Cleveland Browns preseason feed. This is not a national broadcast on CBS, FOX, NBC, or ESPN. He is under no obligation to be impartial, nor should he be. These preseason games are being heavily watched in the Cleveland market. Shouldn't that be the audience he caters to?