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Bernie Kosar says Browns fired him because of slurred speech impairment caused by concussions

Apr 24, 2014 -- 12:41pm

By Tony Grossi |



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

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




Browns draft needs: Defensive line

Apr 24, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi |



Seventh in a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.

Position: Defensive line.

Roster: Armonty Bryant, Desmond Bryant, Cam Henderson, John Hughes, Ismaa’ily Kitchen, Ahtyba Rubin, Brian Sanford, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn.

On paper, this has been considered the strongest unit on the roster. It has young experience (Rubin, Desmond Bryant and Taylor), strong backups (Kitchen, Hughes, Winn) and some youth and promise (Armonty Bryant and Sanford). Yet coach Mike Pettine expressed interest in signing former Buffalo Bills free agent Alex Carrington. And the Browns have shown some interest in draft prospect Dominique Easley, a tackle from Florida. And there are intermittent rumors that Rubin, who is in the last year of a contract that carries an $8.275 million cap figure in 2014, could be traded. So there is enough smoke to suggest that Pettine may add at least one player to this position roster.

Needs: Much of Desmond Bryant’s first season was affected by an irregular heartbeat condition that was corrected by a surgical procedure in December. Having him at 100 percent all year would fill the biggest need on this unit.

Top 5 prospects

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Freakish athlete who looks and tests like he should be the next dominant pass rusher. Concerns arose from a final season in which he recorded only three sacks and appeared to coast to save his body for his professional career.

2. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

Short and not exactly stout (6-0 ¾, 285), he has risen to the top of the list of interior linemen because of a high motor and ability to penetrate to the passer.

3. Louis Nix, Notre Dame

A 331-pound run-plugger who has the athleticism, work ethic and versatility to excel as a 4-3 tackle, also.

4. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

A strong big man with a relentless motor who can play in the 3-4 or 4-3.

5. Kony Ealy, Missouri

Prototypical size (6-4, 273) and pass rush ability for a 4-3 end. Improved each year.

Under radar

Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina

Overshadowed by the legend of Clowney, he led team in tackles for losses and sacks. He benefitted from attention to Clowney.

Bottom line

With starters Rubin and Taylor entering the final years of their contracts, it’s reasonable to assume Pettine would want to add at least one lineman to groom as a future starter.


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




Browns open 2014 season in Pittsburgh; play one Thursday prime-time game in Cincinnati

Apr 23, 2014 -- 8:25pm

By Tony Grossi |



The Browns will open the season on the road for only the second time in 16 years since their rebirth in 1999. And they’ll do it in Pittsburgh.

The last time they opened a season in Pittsburgh the Browns won, 51-0, in rookie head coach Bud Carson’s first game. So rookie coach Mike Pettine has that bit of history going for him.

“Browns at Steelers in Week 1, in your first game as an NFL head coach? It doesn’t get any better than that. I love this division,” Pettine said.

The Browns are 1-14 in season openers since 1999. Their only win came at home over the Baltimore Ravens in 2004. So they are 1-13 in season openers at home, and 0-1 on the road.

The 2014 regular-season released on Thursday also features a Thursday night appearance on NFL Network at Cincinnati on Nov. 6. A home game against Oakland on Oct. 26 is slated for 4:25 p.m. kickoff; otherwise, the remaining 14 games start at 1 o’clock (pending future flex scheduling).

Here is the breakdown of the Browns’ schedule by quarter:


* Sunday, Sept. 7, 1 p.m., at Pittsburgh Steelers.

* Sunday, Sept. 14, 1 p.m., home vs. New Orleans Saints.

* Sunday, Sept. 21, 1 p.m., home vs. Baltimore Ravens.

* Sunday, Sept. 28, bye week.


* Sunday, Oct. 5, 1 p.m., at Tennessee Titans.

* Sunday, Oct. 12, 1 p.m., home vs. Pittsburgh Steelers.

* Sunday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m., at Jacksonville Jaguars.

* Sunday, Oct. 26, 4:25 p.m., home vs. Oakland Raiders.


* Sunday, Nov. 2, 1 p.m., home vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

* Thursday, Nov. 6, 8:25 p.m., at Cincinnati Bengals.

* Sunday, Nov. 16, 1 p.m., home vs. Houston Texans.

* Sunday, Nov. 23, 1 p.m., at Atlanta Falcons.

* Sunday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m., at Buffalo Bills.


* Sunday, Dec. 7, 1 p.m., home vs. Indianapolis Colts.

* Sunday, Dec. 14, 1 p.m., home vs. Cincinnati Bengals.

* Sunday, Dec. 21, 1 p.m., at Carolina Panthers.

* Sunday, Dec. 28, 1 p.m., at Baltimore Ravens.

“Looking at the schedule, we’ve said we want to be the toughest team on the field," Pettine said. "We’ll get a good taste of our division early on, with three of our first five against the AFC North, which has been for quite some time one of the NFL’s best divisions. We’re building our team to compete in the division, so hopefully we can get off to a good start.

“I look forward to returning to Buffalo in late November. That late-season stretch also jumped out at me a little bit. The NFL’s about overcoming adversity, and we face a big challenge with four of our final six on the road.

“I can’t wait to put our team out in front of the Dawg Pound Sept. 14.”

Preseason schedule: Official dates and kickoff times for the four preseason games are:

* Sat., Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m., vs. Detroit Lions, at Ford Field.

* Mon., Aug. 18, 8 p.m., vs. Washington Redskins, at FedEx Field.

* Sat., Aug. 23, 8 p.m., vs. St. Louis Rams, at FirstEnergy Stadium.

* Thurs., Aug. 28, 8 p.m., vs. Chicago Bears, at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Washington game is nationally televised by ESPN. The others are carried on Channel 3.


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




Browns, WKYC dump Kosar from broadcast team

Apr 23, 2014 -- 8:20pm

By Tony Grossi |



The Browns and WKYC Channel 3 jointly announced that former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar has been replaced as analyst on preseason TV broadcasts by Solomon Wilcots. Channel 3 sports anchor Jim Donovan will continue to handle play-by-play.

The team said it was “in discussions” with Kosar on potential roles on the preseason pre-game shows, and segments on the team’s official Website and the club-produced Cleveland Browns Daily, which is carried on ESPN 850 WKNR.

Wilcots, a former Cincinnati Bengals safety, has served as analyst on many Browns regular-season games for CBS, including six in 2013. Wilcots also is a studio analyst on NFL Network and hosts a daily show on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

In a statement released by the club, Browns President Alec Scheiner said:

“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”


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




Browns draft needs: Linebacker

Apr 23, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi |



Sixth in a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.

Position: Linebacker.

Roster: Tank Carder, Karlos Dansby, Darius Eubanks, Quentin Groves, Paul Kruger, Brandon Magee, Eric Martin, Barkevious Mingo, Craig Robertson, Jabaal Sheard, Justin Staples.

There’s strength in numbers here, for sure – 11 strong. The switch last year to the 3-4 base defense of former coordinator and Dick LeBeau disciple Ray Horton resulted in a complete revamping of the outside linebacker spots. But for various reasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers-like pass rush never materialized. 1. High-priced free agent Kruger did not produce in an overworked role as he did with Baltimore off the bench. 2. Backup Groves missed most of the year with a severe high ankle sprain. 3. Top pick Mingo played as light and one-dimensional as feared. 4. The transition of Sheard from defensive end reduced his impact on the pass rush. New coach Mike Pettine and coordinator Jim O’Neil run a different style of 3-4 that hopes to utilize the same players in different ways. Their biggest offseason move was directed inside, where defensive captain and tackling stalwart D’Qwell Jackson was replaced by Dansby, who, at 32, begins his 10th NFL campaign with his third team. It was ironic that the inside ‘backer who struggled more in Horton’s system was the one chosen to stay – Robertson. He could face a challenge for his starting spot from Eubanks or a drafted rookie.

Needs: Pettine is used to having a playmaker at inside linebacker, not just a tackler – Ray Lewis in Baltimore, David Harris with the Jets, Kiko Alonso in Buffalo. Dansby is such a disrupter, but he will be 33 by season’s end and Pettine may want to search for his successor sooner than later.

Top 5 prospects

1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo

Reminds some of a classic Steelers’ 3-4 rush linebacker because of his height (6-2 5/8) and burst to the quarterback. His 2 ½-sack game against Ohio State probably did more for his lofty draft status than his 47 others combined.

2. Anthony Barr, UCLA

Played five different positions on offense his first two seasons before finding a home on defense. His 23.5 sacks in two years suggest the best may yet to come.

3. C.J. Mosley, Alabama

Has the ability and showed the smarts, dedication and temperament to excel at just about any linebacker position. But the specter of many Crimson Tide pro busts may drop him into the middle of the first round.

4. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

Short and light (6-1 1/8, 237), he is a phenomenal athlete with rare speed and quickness for a linebacker. Doesn’t pack much of a wallop as a tackler, though.

5. Dee Ford, Auburn

A classic ‘tweener (not a pure defensive end, not a pure linebacker) who should break in as a situational edge rusher.

Under radar

Preston Brown, Louisville

A tackling machine run-defender who might not be able to play on passing downs because of coverage deficiencies.

Bottom line

Mack’s pro day was the only one Pettine was documented to attend. He joked that he was there partially to check up on his Buffalo residence. Sincere interest in Mack is obvious, but how Pettine would fit him in at an over-loaded rush linebacker roster is a mystery. Would he drop him inside as a Kiki Alonso-type playmaker or start him ahead of Kruger? Or would Pettine address this position with the well-coached Mosley?


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




Browns draft needs: Defensive back

Apr 22, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi |



Fifth in a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.

Position: Cornerback.

Roster: Royce Adams, Joe Haden, T.J. Heath, Brandon Hughes, Leon McFadden, Julian Posey, Buster Skrine, Isaiah Trufant.

First, a quiz: Pick the one cornerback on the roster listed as tall as six feet. (Answer at the end.) As negotiations continue for a long-term contract for Haden, the two players of most note are Skrine and McFadden. Skrine’s development was notable last year as he finally started trusting his speed and natural ability to recover when initially beat. Skrine’s charge last year was to play on the outside for one or two plays as the No. 2 cornerback, and then drop inside to cover the slot receiver in 3- and 4-receiver formations. It was a formidable challenge that few NFL cornerbacks master. Coach Mike Pettine was sympathetic and has said he prefers his cornerbacks concentrate on outside or inside – not both. Trufant could be a contender to play inside if Skrine stays outside. As for McFadden, the 2013 third-round pick struggled to get on the field for half a season, and then struggled once he was pressed into service. In an ideal world, McFadden would challenge for a starting spot in his second season and that would ease the burden of this draft. But it may be unrealistic. (Quiz answer: Heath, an undrafted free agent last with Buffalo, is listed at an even six feet tall.)

Needs: Pettine reportedly prefers his corners to play primarily press, man-to-man coverage. A cornerback with decent size to challenge Skrine and ultimately allow Skrine to specialize as the nickel (third) back and complement Haden as the No. 2 starter on the outside.

Top 5 prospects

1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

Athletically gifted, he stole the top spot with supreme testing in the draft season. Not a bad career either: Seven INTs in 2013, including two for TDs, plus six career kickoff return TDs.

2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Earned the Jim Thorpe Award as the best college defensive back. Not as fast or as big as Gilbert, but he bettered him in the vertical and broad jumps.

3. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

Plays taller and stronger than his 5-11 ¾, 190-pound measurements. Not shy about tackling.

4. Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Final season was a disappointment, marred from the start by a one-game suspension, but may be the first Buckeye drafted this year.

5. Jason Verrett, Texas Christian

The smallest of the first-round cornerbacks (5-9 ½, 189), he can cover the fastest receivers.

Under radar

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska

His size (6-2 5/8, 218) is hard to keep under radar, but his production drops him lower in the rankings.

Last word

With Baltimore, the Jets and Buffalo, Pettine has been around good cornerback pairs. Finding a rookie good enough to move Skrine to full-time nickel (third) back would make the secondary stronger.

Position: Safety.

Roster: Josh Aubrey, Johnson Bademosi, Tashaun Gipson, Jordan Poyer, Jamoris Slaughter, Donte Whitner.

The addition of Whitner gives the defense more range, versatility and experience at the strong safety position manned the past four seasons by T.J. Ward. Gipson showed big improvement in his second NFL season and first as a starting free safety, leading the team with five interceptions (one for a TD). Gipson, who is a physical player, isn’t the prototype ball-hawk center fielder, however. Poyer, an October claim formerly with the Eagles, showed some ability and averaged 14.3 yards on punt returns after Travis Benjamin was injured. Slaughter’s rookie season was spent on the practice squad.

Needs: Pettine eyeballed ex-Bill free safety Jairus Byrd in free agency, but the price was too steep. You get the impression he wants a more aggressive ballhawk in the deep secondary.

Top 5 prospects

1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

Blends good hands and ball awareness with an aggressive tackling ability. Real name is Ha’sean.

2. Calvin Pryor, Louisville

A hard-hitting safety with very good coverage skills.

3. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois

Turned in seven interceptions his last season and then impressed at the Senior Bowl.

4. Terrence Brooks, Florida State

A two-year starter at free safety after switching from backup cornerback.

5. Deone Bucannon, Washington State

An imposing physical specimen who specializes in loud collisions.

Under radar

Tre Boston, North Carolina

Passes the eye test and had 13 career interceptions.

Last word

Whitner is entering his ninth NFL year and will be 29 when the 2014 season starts. Although Aubrey, an undrafted free agent in 2013, was liked by the former regime, it’s not too early to look for a young hitter to groom.


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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