Last week, I got a call from longtime local resident and community activist Chris Malfara, who is now the general manager at the Bay Point development in the Village of Marblehead.
Since last summer, his organization has been courting former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who has been spending a great deal of time at Bay Point. Last Sunday, Chris Malfara joined forces with Chris Galvin and M.J. Siewert from United Way to bring Bernie to Marblehead again for Sunday’s Browns’ game against the New York Giants.
Shortly after the third quarter began, Chris took me over to where Bernie was sitting and arranged for a short interview with the former Browns’ legend. I noted that I had seen him on a recent ESPN special titled “Broke” which chronicles the plight of former NFL players who have been forced to live a life of pain and suffering, not to mention financial hardship. “I kind of felt bad about it because I have been more blessed financially than a lot of the guys on that show,” said Kosar.
On the program, Bernie Kosar talks about a lot of his physical trials. “I’ve had 45 broken bones and at least 12 surgeries since I started playing football,” he said. “But I wouldn’t give it up (playing football) for anything in the world. I loved the game.” He then added, “I feel very blessed to have been able to work through a lot of my issues. I believe life is more about how you handle adversity than how you handle success.”
Kosar left the steel mills of Youngstown for a shot at success at the University of Miami in Florida that was a “quarterback factory” at the time. He left Ohio and the Midwest because that was back in the heyday of Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, who ran the football and did not like to pass.
When he got to Miami, Jim Kelley was the established quarterback. The second guy was a guy who ended up being a head coach at Georgia and he was joined in his recruiting class by Vinnie Testaverde.
Kosar admitted that he never saw the infamous Doug Flutie Hail Mary pass. “I was on the sidelines celebrating because we had just scored to take the lead with 23 seconds left.”
When I told him how much I admired his consoling Ernest Byner on the sidelines, who had just committed the infamous “Fumble” against Denver in the AFC Finals, he told me that it was a play that had affected all of the Browns’ players that were on that team, and still does, especially Ernest Byner. “He had a great game, 150 yards rushing and another 100 receiving. But nobody will ever be able to forget that one play. It still haunts us today.”