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Bernie Kosar  

Former NFL Quarterback, Super Bowl XXVIII Champion

He chose to go to the University of Miami, which had a passing-oriented offense.

After being redshirted in 1982, Bernie Kosar started all 12 games as a freshman in 1983. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,328 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading the Hurricanes to a 11-1 regular season and a berth in the Orange Bowl against top-ranked Nebraska, which had won 22 consecutive games. In the game, Kosar passed for 300 yards and two touchdowns, and the Hurricanes topped the Cornhuskers 31-30 for Miami's first national championship.

Now a national celebrity, Kosar did not disappoint in 1984. He set Hurricanes records with 3,642 yards and 25 touchdowns, was a second-team All-American and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. Kosar's career completion percentage of 62.3 percent is still a Hurricanes record.

Under National Football League rules at the time, only seniors and graduates could be drafted. Amazingly, despite all the time he spent with the football team, Kosar was about to graduate a year early from the University of Miami's respected Business School, with a double major in finance and economics. The Browns convinced Kosar, who wanted to play for his hometown team, to wait until after the NFL draft to declare himself eligible for the pros. That allowed the Browns to take Kosar in a special supplemental draft.

Kosar's choice of the Browns, who were coming off a 5-11 season, made him an immediate fan favorite. His friendliness with fans and on-field performance would make him one of the most-popular players in team history.

Kosar was not the most athletic man to play quarterback. He was famously immobile and threw with an ugly half-sidearm motion. However, his accuracy was unmatched, and he rarely forced throws or made bad decisions. In 1990 and 1991, Kosar set a league record by throwing 308 consecutive passes without an interception.

The Browns intended Kosar to serve as Gary Danielson's backup in Kosar's rookie season, but Danielson injured his shoulder in the fifth week. Kosar completed only half of his passes in the team's rushing-oriented offense that year. Nevertheless, the team snuck into the playoffs with an 8-8 record, losing to the Miami Dolphins in the divisional playoffs.

Danielson was injured again in the 1986 preseason, and by the time he healed, Kosar had established himself not only as the Browns' permanent starter but as one of the league's top QBs. In a new, passing-focused offense, Kosar threw for 3,854 yards and finished second in the league with 310 completions. The Browns took top seed in the American Football Conference with a 12-4 record. In the divisional playoffs against the New York Jets, Kosar threw for a playoff-record 489 yards in leading the Browns to a dramatic 23-20 comeback victory in double overtime. Only John Elway's famous 98-yard drive in the following week's AFC championship kept the Browns out of the Super Bowl.

1987 was Kosar's finest year, statistically. In the strike-shortened season, he completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,033 yards and 22 touchdowns and led the AFC in quarterback rating. In an AFC championship rematch against Elway's Denver Broncos, Kosar threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-33 loss. Kosar also made his only Pro Bowl that season.

Kosar spent most of the 1988 season sidelined with injuries but came back to throw for 3,533 yards in 1989. That year, the Browns advanced to the AFC championship for the third time in four years, losing again to the Broncos in Denver.

Kosar's later years in Cleveland were dampened by injuries and dwindling support around him. In 1990, Kosar threw a career-high 15 interceptions as the Browns went 3-13. The following year, he came back to throw for 3,487 yards and 18 touchdowns. A broken ankle sidelined him for most of the year in 1992.

In 1991, the Browns hired Bill Belichick as head coach. Not a huge fan of Kosar, Belichick had signed quarterback Vinny Testaverde before the 1993 season. Early in the year, Belichick benched Kosar in favor of Testaverde. An injury to Testaverde later put Kosar back under center.

However, after a 29-14 loss to Denver in week 8, the Browns released Kosar. Belichick told a press conference Kosar was suffering from "diminishing skills." The coach was not entirely incorrect; Kosar's performance had trailed off in recent years. But the release of the popular player set off a wave of anger among Browns fans, some of whom came to the next home game in Kosar masks.

The Dallas Cowboys then signed Kosar to fill in for an injured Troy Aikman. Kosar performed well in four games for the Cowboys and earned his only Super Bowl ring as a backup.

Kosar spent the final three years of his career with the Dolphins as a backup to Dan Marino. He is perhaps best remembered among Dolphins fans for designing a trick play that helped the Dolphins top the Jets in a crucial game late in 1994. With the clock winding down and the Dolphins down by 3, Marino pretended to spike the ball to stop the clock. He then threw the winning touchdown pass to Mark Ingram.

Since retiring from football after the 1996 season, Kosar has been involved in several ventures. In 2001, he became part-owner of the Florida Panthers franchise of the National Hockey League. In 2004, he opened Bernie's Steakhouse in South Miami, Florida. He was also publisher of Bernie's Insiders, a magazine that covered the Browns until it became the Orange and Brown Report at the end of 2005. The Bernie J. Kosar Jr. Charitable Trust, established in 1991, funds programs for children and young adults. Kosar has turned down feelers to run for public office.


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