|No. 19, 18|
|Born:||November 25, 1963|
|Height:||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Weight:||215 lb (98 kg)|
|High school:||Boardman (Boardman, Ohio)|
|Supplemental draft:||1985 / Round: 1|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Bernard Joseph Kosar Jr. (born November 25, 1963) is a former American football quarterback who played collegiately at the University of Miami where he led the team to a National Championship in 1983. He subsequently played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns from 1985 to 1993 and finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. He was the backup quarterback on the 1993 Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XXVIII.
Of Hungarian descent, Kosar was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and raised in suburban Boardman Township. He attended Boardman High School, where he earned Parade magazine All-American honors as a senior for the 1981 season. He also gained recognition as a baseball player, especially for his pitching skills.
Kosar chose to play college football at the University of Miami, which ran a passing-oriented offense and was beginning to emerge as one of the top football programs in the nation.
After being redshirted in 1982, 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 an 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. Kosar earned Orange Bowl MVP honors for his performance.
In 1984, he set Hurricane season 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.
He threw for 447 yards and two touchdowns, completing 25 of 38 attempts, in the Hurricanes' November 23, 1984, 47–45 loss to Doug Flutie's Boston College team when Flutie threw his famous "Hail Flutie" pass. Earlier in the same year, Kosar watched as replacement quarterback Frank Reich of the University of Maryland launched what was then the biggest comeback in college football history. Reich led the Maryland Terrapins back from a first-half deficit of 31–0 and won a 42–40 victory.
In his final college game, the 1985 Fiesta Bowl against UCLA in which the Hurricanes lost 39–37, Kosar completed 31 of 44 passes for 294 yards, two touchdown passes and one interception. He graduated from college with a double major in finance and economics. He took 18 credit hours during the spring of 1985 and an additional six during the summer to graduate early.
Kosar was interviewed about his time at the University of Miami for the documentary The U, which premiered December 12, 2009, on ESPN.
Under National Football League (NFL) rules at the time, only seniors and graduates could be drafted. Kosar, who was scheduled to graduate over the summer from the University of Miami's business school with a double major in finance and economics, had two years of college eligibility remaining.
In 1985 underclassmen had until April 15 to notify the league about their eligibility for the April 30 regular draft. In January 1985, a Florida television report stated that Kosar had decided to forgo his two years of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. Kosar denied the report at the time, but added that he would keep his options open. At a March 15 news conference, Kosar announced that he would make himself available for the 1985 NFL Draft and that he would like to play for the Cleveland Browns in his native Ohio. After the announcement, both NFL and United States Football League teams were interested and Kosar's agent, John Geletka, even met with the USFL's commissioner, Harry Usher to confirm the USFL's interest level.
The Buffalo Bills held the first pick in the 1985 NFL Draft and signed defensive end Bruce Smith out of Virginia Tech weeks before the draft. On April 9, 1985, Mike Lynn, the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings traded two picks to the Houston Oilers to move up to the second spot in the draft in preparation of Kosar's announcement that he would enter the draft.
Later on the same day, Cleveland traded their first round picks in the 1985 NFL Draft (#7) and 1986 NFL Draft, their third round pick in 1985 (#63) and their sixth round pick in 1986 to the Buffalo Bills for their first round pick in the 1986 NFL Draft. Since the Bills had the worst record in the 1984 season, they held the first pick in both the regular NFL draft and the supplemental draft in 1985. When a selection is used in the supplemental draft, that team forfeits the pick in the next regular draft which meant that the Browns could use the Bills 1986 regular draft first round pick as the first pick in the 1985 supplemental draft.
On April 10, NFL spokesman Joe Browne said that if Kosar's paperwork was not received by the April 15 deadline then he would not be eligible for the regular draft on April 30. Browne added that if Kosar later decided to play in the 1985 season, then the league would hold a supplemental draft for Kosar and other eligible players.
Minnesota responded by stating that when Kosar announced he would turn professional, he was, in effect, declaring his intention to enter the draft. They claimed the Browns and Kosar's agent orchestrated this scenario in order to subvert the NFL's orderly system of drafting players and claim Kosar for themselves. Mike Lynn also stated that since Kosar had hired an agent, he should have automatically lost his college eligibility and become eligible for the regular draft. The Oilers threatened to sue the NFL if Kosar was allowed to skip the regular draft in favor of the supplemental draft and Kosar's agent threatened to sue the NFL if Kosar was forced into the regular draft.
Due to the controversy, on April 12, commissioner Pete Rozelle extended the April 15 eligibility deadline for Kosar alone (who had not officially filed the paperwork for draft eligibility) and called a hearing that would take place on April 16. The four teams (Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston and Minnesota) involved in the two trades presented their case at the hearing.
On April 23, Rozelle announced that he would leave the decision up to Kosar, but permitted Minnesota to persuade Kosar to enter the regular draft with the condition that they could not negotiate a potential contract with him. This led to an April 25 news conference where Kosar announced that he wanted to go home to Ohio as a member of the Cleveland Browns and that he would forgo the regular NFL Draft and make himself eligible for the supplemental draft. On May 10, Kosar officially announced his intentions for the supplemental draft in a letter to the commissioner. On June 25, Kosar became officially eligible for the supplemental draft when he took his exam finals and the university notified the NFL front office that he had graduated. On July 3, 1985, the Browns selected Kosar and signed him to a five-year contract.
Kosar chose the Browns, who were coming off a 5–11 season.
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 half of his passes in the team's run-oriented offense that year. The team squeaked 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 as the Browns' permanent starter. In a new, passing-focused offense, Kosar threw for 3,854 yards and finished second in the league with 310 completions. The Browns took the top seed in the American Football Conference (AFC) with a 12–4 record. In the divisional playoffs against the New York Jets, Kosar threw for a then-playoff-record 489 yards (a record since eclipsed by Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII) in leading the Browns to a 23–20 comeback victory in double overtime. Only John Elway's 98-yard drive in the following week's AFC championship game kept the Browns out of the Super Bowl.
Kosar's most productive year statistically was 1987. 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 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 set a record for consecutive playoff games with at least three touchdown passes (3 games) having thrown three scores against both Indianapolis and Denver in 1987, and three against Buffalo in 1989.
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 to only 9 interceptions. He also started the 1990 season by setting an NFL record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception with 286. In 1990 and 1991, Kosar set a league record by throwing 308 consecutive passes without an interception, which stood for almost two decades.
In 1991, the Browns hired Bill Belichick as head coach. Following a 1992 season which saw Kosar miss 9 games with a broken ankle and go 2–5 in the games that he started, Belichick signed quarterback Vinny Testaverde before the 1993 season. After falling from 3–0 to 3–2, Belichick benched Kosar in favor of Testaverde. An injury to Testaverde returned Kosar to the field. After a 29–14 loss to Denver in Week 10, the Browns released Kosar.
After the Browns released Kosar, the Dallas Cowboys signed Kosar to a one-year, $1 million contract to fill in for an injured Troy Aikman. Kosar played in four games for the Cowboys and earned his only Super Bowl championship as a backup in Super Bowl XXVIII. Kosar entered the game in the final play and knelt down to close the victory. A week prior to the Super Bowl, Kosar relieved an injured Aikman in the second half of the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, completing five of nine pass attempts for 83 yards and one touchdown.
Kosar spent the final years of his career with the Miami Dolphins as a backup to Dan Marino. He brought with him 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 trailing by three, Marino pretended to spike the ball to stop the clock. He then threw the winning touchdown pass to Mark Ingram.
Kosar finished his 12-season career with 1,994 completions in 3,365 attempts for 23,301 yards and 124 touchdowns, with 87 interceptions. He also rushed for five touchdowns. He also held the NFL record for most consecutive completed passes without an interception, until December 26, 2010, when Tom Brady broke his record.
Since retiring from football after the 1996 season, Kosar has been involved in several ventures. He hosted the Nestlé/Bernie Kosar Charity Classic at Tanglewood Country Club in Bainbridge Township, Ohio throughout the 1990s.
There had been talk of Kosar taking the head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of Miami. Kosar (who currently holds a seat on University of Miami's board of regents) acknowledged that he had considered taking the job before it was ultimately offered to Randy Shannon.
In 2001, Kosar purchased the Florida Panthers NHL team along with pharmaceutical businessman Alan Cohen.
Kosar also purchased a minority share in the Arena Football League's Las Vegas Gladiators in 2007 and announced that the team would move to Cleveland and play under the name Cleveland Gladiators.
On October 16, 2007, he was named team president and CEO of the franchise. The Gladiators finished the 2008 regular season 9–7, earning them a playoff berth.
On October 17, 2009, Kosar was hired as a consultant for the Cleveland Browns.
Following the 2008–2009 recession, Kosar and his businesses declared bankruptcy on June 19, 2009, later listing $9.2 million in assets and $18.9 million in debt. Although the initial bankruptcy filing was a Chapter 11 restructuring, the US Bankruptcy Court in Fort Lauderdale ordered the proceeding changed to a Chapter 7 liquidation on January 6, 2010. Under the restructuring Kosar's filings proposed protecting his NFL pension; it is unclear at this time[when?] if he will be able to retain his pension under the Chapter 7 proceedings.
The Geauga County Maple Leaf newspaper reported on July 15, 2010, that Kosar was about to lose property in Geauga County, Ohio, for unpaid back taxes totaling $173,557.90.
In September 2010, the trustees of Auburn Township indicated that the township was considering purchasing the land in foreclosure.
Kosar has lent his name to Kosar's Wood-Fired Grill at the Hard Rock Rocks in Northfield Park, which opened in December 2013.
He has teamed with Ohio grocery chain Heinen's for a motivational/wellness seminar series based on his autobiography Learning to Scramble, which he published in 2017.
On June 22, 1990, Kosar married Babette Ferre, whom he met while at Miami. They have four now-adult children. Ferre filed for divorce in 2005, citing his reckless spending and bad investments; she also accused him of taking drugs, which he denies. The divorce was settled in 2007, the final phase presided over by Larry Seidlin.
Kosar dated Tami Longaberger of The Longaberger Company from 2009 to 2013.
Kosar was prominently featured in Broke, a 2012 documentary for the ESPN series 30 For 30 about the financial problems common among high-earning athletes. According to one review of Broke, "[Kosar's] story proved to be the true heart of the film," with Kosar's upfront discussion of family problems and bad business decision.
Kosar continues to deal with the lingering effects of several concussions he sustained during his playing career and is currently in a treatment program to alleviate his symptoms. The experimental treatment has been very helpful for Kosar, to the point where he has openly promoted the treatment in the hopes of helping other players who may have developed the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Kosar's symptoms have included insomnia, slurred speech and a ringing in his head, some present for more than a decade.
After being pulled over for speeding, Kosar was cited September 29, 2013, in Solon, Ohio, for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He later pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of reckless operation. Kosar received a $750 fine and a suspended jail sentence.
Kosar has been dating Anna Tomaro, an entrepreneur and former hair stylist, since 2014.
In the 2010 novel I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, protagonist John Smith finds an abandoned beagle named "Bernie Kosar" who becomes Smith's pet. In the 2011 film adaptation, a poster of Kosar is shown in Smith's new bedroom.