Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bernie Kosar - Hurting Emotionally, Physically and Financially

The tragic fall of former glory boys. Bernie was a loud mouthed, personable QB. He's also very honest about his decline. Bernie Kosar (stats) felt like a normal Joe who parlayed brains into a starting QB job for his hometown team. People forgot he was 6'5" and had amazing accuracy with his throws. Who couldn't like a guy who was physically inferior but beat out a prized QB recruit to start for da U? Who couldn't like a double major who tricked the NFL's draft system so he could play for his hometown team? He had a perm and threw sidearm!!! In 25 years, he has gone from sports magazine covers to bankruptcy and divorce court.

Bernie's fall should be a cautionary tale for current athletes. He did not manage his money well, and he did not prepare for a life after football. Sure he had business ventures and investments, but he did not anticipate a way to live a fulfilling life after the game was over. In the 2nd link up above, the writer mentions how Kosar truly finds happiness when his actions are around the game of football. He admits to being immature and that he was not prepared for the end. He played in a time with fewer luxuries than the current sports world. Being a part of a world where you are top dawg, money and attention find you, and you only have to play and prepare for a child's game must warp personal development. For Kosar, everything is just piling on right now. Divorce, decrepit body, debts up the wazoo: it's all crashing down on him now.

Bernie Kosar's career decline fit the change in the NFL from the 70s-80s game to the modern game. Like Drew Bledsoe and Dan Marino, Kosar was a tall statue in the pocket. He was also considered a 'coach on the field'. He was very intelligent. Even as a rookie, he was trusted by his coaching staff, and constantly made the 'right' decision on the field. As the defenses in the NFL got faster and stronger, Kosar became a sitting duck in the pocket and started to take on injuries. By the time he was 30, he was pretty much done in the NFL. If he were a rookie today, despite his positives, he'd probably have a difficult time starting in the NFL. He would definitely not be the first overall pick in the draft. His sidearm delivery might scare half the teams in the NFL away today.

Kosar was never shy with the media, and is a fun guy to hear talk when NFL Films does a "Classics" special on a game involving Kosar and the Browns. I liked Bernie. Before I got my growth spurt and magically got fast (who disproportionate, giant feet slow you down), I was relegated to QB whenever I played pick up football with friends. This did help later when I played organized ball as QB. Kosar was a QB I could relate to: slow, smart, great touch and accuracy. If he could make it, I could make it. Like many Americans, I love cheering for an underdog. The Browns were and are lovable losers. With Kosar, they'd make the playoffs and suffer heartbreak after heartbreak. I'd cheer for them against the Broncos, the Oilers, the Jets. Their fans seemed like lots of fun, and they had a leader, Kosar, from Cleveland. As a kid, I couldn't resist. They would find a way to lose seemingly done deals, and I'd always feel bad for the dawg pound and Bernie. It never was meant to be for the Browns. That is still the case. It's stupid of me to feel bad for a guy who had quite a luxurious life, and often seemed to figure a way to manipulate his situation to his benefit, but I wish Bernie the best with his ordeal.

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