Bernie Kosar was removed from the Cleveland Browns' preseason broadcast and he's hitting the NFL and Browns where it hurts most: Claiming the team did so because of his slurred speech caused by concussions.
Concussions and the treatment of former players with health issues are two of the most controversial issues the NFL deals with, and Kosar checked off both boxes with his claim.
Here was Kosar's statement, via the Akron Beacon-Journal:
“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.”
One of the most popular ex-Browns has put the team in a bad spot. The Browns already tried smoothing it over, with this statement from president Alec Scheiner on the team's site announcing that Solomon Wilcots will replace Kosar on the preseason game broadcasts:
"We welcome Solomon and are excited to look further into additional opportunities to continue to engage Bernie with our fans. We want Browns fans to look forward to seeing and hearing his continued contributions and analysis on not only our preseason telecasts, but also our radio network and ClevelandBrowns.com."
Even if the team wanted to reassign Kosar and use him in other ways, Kosar sees it as a demotion, and it is. The team wasn't happy with Kosar last year when he was critical of Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens during a preseason broadcast, and the team apologized to the Rams. Kosar has blamed the hits he took during his career for other things, like when he told police last year that he couldn't do sobriety tests because his offensive line couldn't block.
So what are the Browns to do? They don't want him in the booth for preseason games or they wouldn't have demoted him, no matter the reason. And Kosar put out a heavy guilt trip. And it's probably true that concussions have contributed to any slurred speech, although Kosar admits that it's just his belief that's why he was demoted, not that he was told that. It's always tough to see a former player struggling after his football career with injuries suffered while playing the game, and the Browns don't want to seem insensitive to that.
If it was Kosar's desire to put the Browns in the most uncomfortable position possible for taking him out of the preseason broadcast booth, he did a perfect job of it.
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