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WKYC President and General Manager Issues Statement Addressing Bernie Kosar’s Claims About Concussions Causing His Firing

  • Jake O'Donnell

We covered this story two days ago, and it was big enough to get a headline on CNN’s homepage (despite having little if anything to do with searching the seabed for wreckages), so we figured we’d cull together the most recent developments surrounding Bernie Kosar’s firing as a Cleveland Browns preseason commentator for WKYC Channel 3 — a job he’s held for seven seasons.

The former Browns quarterback broke the news of his departure by releasing a statement suggesting his slurred speech was responsible for his firing. He connected this issue to his history with concussions. Kosar then went on to describe himself as qualified for the job despite the sound and cadence of his speaking voice.

Point taken.

Were these the grounds for his release, there’d be ample room for outrage, but they’re almost certainly not. Kosar is known for being a bit of a lightning rod in the commentary booth (see video above).

Remember last year when he went rogue and started describing Kellen Clemens as unwatchable, only to follow that up by saying that Tavon Austin’s parents “would be embarrassed” if they saw how “horrible” he was at football?

Remember how he refused to apologize after Rams coach Jeff Fisher aired his outrage at those comments?

[NFL.com] The most egregious comments were directed at Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, of whom Kosar said, “I can’t stand watching him play.”

When Browns play-by-play man Jim Donovan relayed an anecdote about Clemens giving an autograph to Pope Benedict XVI, Kosar quipped, “Bless me father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”

Kosar went on to call rookie Tavon Austin and the Rams receivers “horrible,” while suggesting their parents “would be embarrassed” if they were watching the game.

Fisher said in response Saturday, “I guess I’m a little disappointed. … 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.”

To the naked eye, being fired following those comments isn’t surprising, though Kosar is still standing by his theory that his release was about how he speaks. He has used this theory to explain previous issues, like a DUI arrest, in the past. Browns fans have subsequently rallied around troubled ex-NFLer, prompting WKYC President and General Manager Brooke Spectorsky to release a statement clarifying that Kosar’s departure has absolutely nothing to do with his voice, and everything to do with the Browns changing course.

[WKYC] “First of all, we love Bernie, and we’re grateful for the role he has played in our broadcasts over the last 8 years.” Spectorsky said. “Nowhere in our discussions with Bernie or the Browns has anything ever been said about his speech impairment due to concussions. 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.

We have essentially done the same preseason programming for the past 8 years. It’s about the production of the games and our wish, after careful discussion with the Browns, about changing up the production to give a new perspective in our coverage,” Spectorsky said.

“The goal both for the Browns and for Channel 3 is for Bernie to have a bigger role in all of the new Browns programming that’s being done, meaning TV, radio, and on-line. It can be a much more valuable role and will enable him to stay involved for a larger part of the season,” Spectorsky said. “The Browns and I met personally with Bernie and talked to him about all of that. It’s in Bernie’s hands and he knows exactly what we’re talking about. There’s lots of room for discussion for his roles in the upcoming season and we hope he’ll decide to remain an integral part of the new programming efforts across multiple platforms.”

The fact that he was offered different roles should make everyone happy (fans, Kosar, WKYC). Given his track record, however, we’re of the mind that Kosar’s happiness isn’t so easily attained. Hopefully he can find some satisfaction in his new position with the company.

Photo via Getty

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Jake O'Donnell

Jake was hatched from a large egg in 1999, fully formed. His hobbies include sports, writing, and hobbies. His body is a temple. His mind, a dojo. His computer, a Gateway. Namaste. (@_jakeodonnell)