Since we started 101 ESPN almost five years ago, one of the hallmarks of our station is that we don’t make personal attacks on people. We’re critical of plays, bad decisions and especially poor effort, but we aren’t going to rip an individual. As an example, I thought Carlos Beltran made a poor a foolish decision to bunt against the Dodgers last Monday, but I’m not going to call him foolish based on one head-scratching play. In fact, Beltran is a brilliant, instinctive baseball player who also happens to be a superb human being, so making a personal attack would be crazy for any logical, thinking person.
We can question Mike Matheny’s use of his bullpen, but do so in a rational way. Just because he brought in Jake Westbrook rather than a reliever when Shelby Miller got hurt last week, he isn’t a villain. He made a move that we can second-guess, but because he made that move he isn’t an evil person.
Clearly, Cleveland Browns preseason TV analyst Bernie Kosar doesn’t subscribe to the same theory. When “analyzing” the Rams’ game in Cleveland, rather than break down the play – which included some drops by Rams receivers – he went on the attack.
This is the way the conversation went with he and play-by-play man Jim Donovan, as transcribed by Chris Pokorney of SBNation:
Kosar: “It’s actually not a bad throw … these St. Louis receivers are horrible. That’s a drop there on the out-and-up on the go. The guy does his break four yards in front of the DB.”
Donovan (laughing): “What if some of their parents are watching?”
Kosar (laughing): “I would be embarrassed.”
In my opinion, it’s kind of early to judge guys like Tavon Austin and Nick Johnson. I don’t know how Kosar can possibly conclude that they’re horrible this early in their careers. But he wasn’t done. “I’m checking through the itinerary of guys and coaches to see who the receivers coach is, to make sure I don’t know who this guy is, because he’s not doing very good either.”
That receivers coach would be Ray Sherman, who was with the Vikings for the initial development of Randy Moss and with the Cowboys for the initial development of Miles Austin. In five years with the Packers, Sherman helped Javon Walker and Donald Driver ascend to a Pro Bowl level. In 1993, Jerry Rice won AP Offensive Player of the Year honors with Sherman as his coach. And Sherman’s Coupe de Grace came in 2005-2006, when he got Drew Bennett to catch more than 100 passes for almost 1,500 yards with seven TDs. So, Sherman knows what he’s doing.
Kosar saved his harshest criticism for Rams third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens, who actually performed well and is, it should be noted, a third-string quarterback.
Donovan: “Kellen Clemens is in at quarterback.”
Kosar: “I’ve been waiting for this one all day. The last time I was a bad boy and I was punished (laughing) to watch him play quarterback, was the day Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets. The Jets were playing the Browns in the preseason game. Kellen Clemens was supposed to be their starting quarterback and I saw why they traded for Brett Favre.”
Donovan: “The most famous person who got an autograph from Kellen Clemens? Pope Benedict is the answer.”
Kosar (laughs): Bless me father, for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”
Donovan: “He was at a mass celebrated by the Pope at Washington National Stadium. The Pope reached out and grabbed his child and kissed his child, and he signed the Pope’s mitar.”
Kosar: “God, you’re killing me. My Catholic guilt here, I’m talking that I can’t stand watching him play and he does such a nice thing like that. That’s great … but he still can’t play quarterback.”
Obviously, Rams coach Jeff Fisher wasn’t thrilled with that “analysis,” saying, “First off let me say this, the Cleveland Brown organization is a first class organization from top to bottom and it has been that for years and years and years. I guess I’m a little disappointed – I feel bad for them – that they had someone doing the broadcast feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team and coaches for that matter. I’m just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and for this game. So, to be honest with you I lost a lot of respect for him. This game is a preseason game, players are playing hard. It’s highly unlikely that he knew anything about our football team but felt the need to make those comments. I don’t think they were justified.”
Kosar has reportedly called Fisher to apologize, but if he had bosses who put an edict in place at the beginning, this never would have happened. I’m accused of being a homer (I think I’m reasonably objective), but I’m not going to launch a personal attack against an athlete because he isn’t performing to an elite level. Clemens is a great guy who tries hard and has a great attitude. He’s a third-string quarterback and handles his role with class and acceptance, which is what you want from a veteran for that role.
It’s pretty easy to take a personal shot at a guy like Bernie Kosar, but I know he’s trying his best. I don’t need to go there. I’ll let you be the judge.