By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Updated at 5:34 p.m.
Bernie Kosar, who was sacked by his own team from doing analysis on the Browns’ preseason telecasts, wants his job back.
Less than 24 hours after being replaced on WKYC-TV telecasts by multi-network analyst Solomon Wilcots, Kosar issued a reaction that neither the Browns nor WKYC probably anticipated.
Kosar said he was fired because of his “slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL.” Kosar also appealed to the team and station to reinstate him.
In a joint statement released by the Browns and WKYC on Wednesday, no reason was given for Kosar’s removal.
On Friday, Brooke Spectorsky, President and General Manager of WKYC, refuted Kosar's charges.
"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."
Spectorsky added that he wanted to change the production of the games after having the same look in place for eight years.
Kosar spurred a controversy last year when he criticized St. Louis Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens and Rams receivers during a preseason telecast. The next day, Rams coach Jeff Fisher expressed anger about Kosar's comments and referenced Kosar’s “well-documented issues.”
The Browns’ former management team quickly huddled and determined Kosar would continue as TV analyst -- but not without a public rebuke. Former CEO Joe Banner issued a statement in which he stated the Browns “don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach” that Kosar took during the telecast. Kosar later apologized privately to Fisher and the Rams.
In their statement announcing Kosar’s removal, Browns President Alec Scheiner said Kosar would be offered “additional opportunities to continue to engage Bernie with our fans.” Scheiner indicated these would be on the preseason telecast pre-game show, and on the club’s official Website and daily radio show on ESPN 850 WKNR.
Although Kosar didn’t address whether he planned to accept a reduced role.
Kosar’s statement on Thursday said:
“I was informed yesterday by the Cleveland Browns and WKYC that I have been replaced as a 2014 preseason game day color commentator. I believe that this decision stems from my slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL. This is very unfortunate, as I believe my football acumen and ability to describe what is happening on the field, has been well received by Cleveland Browns fans. I love to put the personal touch, pride in the Browns, and pride in our Cleveland community into the broadcast. Being able to share these preseason games with my fellow Cleveland Browns fans is truly one of the remaining joys in my life.I would hope that WKYC would reconsider utilizing my in-game talents and overlook my concussion-induced impairment. I want everyone to know that I still bleed Brown and Orange.”
The Browns have not responded to Kosar's statement.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
Return to: Grossi Stories Blog