Joe Banner and the Browns did exactly what they should have done once the Bernie Kosar commentary story became a national headline. From the Browns’ perspective — and Joe Banner’s specifically — he’s in the business of making the Browns the best he can make them, all while protecting the league overall. If criticizing some “questionable phrases” is what it takes to make sure the Rams and Jeff Fisher wouldn’t have ill will in a trade scenario with Banner in the future, then that’s exactly what Banner should do.
Ultimately, my problem with this whole Bernie Kosar situation isn’t with Bernie, Joe Banner, Peter King or even Jeff Fisher. I have a problem with us as a culture overall.
Bernie Kosar was telling jokes. Maybe they were bad jokes, but it wasn’t serious analysis when Kosar bemoaned his obligation to watch Kellen Clemens play quarterback in the fourth quarter of a pre-season NFL contest. Yes, Bernie thinks that Clemens is lacking as a player, but that’s secondary to what he was commenting on over the weekend. Bernie Kosar was talking to a local Cleveland TV audience and trying to make them laugh. You wouldn’t know this at all if you read the print accounts of this story nationally.
And that’s really the point: This wasn’t a national telecast with one-sided commentary.1 Browns fans have come to be used to Kosar’s one-sided pre-season commentary.2 He’s also ridiculously protective of quarterbacks over other position groups at times. It’s the pre-season though and the biggest joke in the NFL is the fact that fans have to pay money to see these meaningless games. And yet these same games are now important enough that what Bernie Kosar says about guys playing in the fourth quarter to an all Cleveland audience is making headlines?
Which brings me to Peter King’s account of how it all went down in his MMQB column this morning. King seems to justify all his noise on the issue because the Browns and Bernie Kosar have apologized. “My point was, I think there’s a way to be critical of players and teams, and analysts should definitely do that,” King said. “But Kosar went too far, in my opinion. And not just mine. Kosar called Rams coach Jeff Fisher Sunday to apologize, and Browns CEO Joe Banner said Sunday the Browns “don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach” Kosar used.”
See, everyone? I was right because the Browns and Bernie Kosar apologized! I don’t mean to pick on Peter King either because I love his column and think he’s arguably the best NFL reporter in the league. This isn’t about him except as a symptom for what’s wrong with our culture at times.
Bernie Kosar and the Browns got called on a national stage for something that was said locally. Was it harsh? Yeah, but again it was really more about going for a laugh in a meaningless game. It probably did go a bit too far, but that’s what comedy — even some bad varieties — tend to do. Kosar and the Browns were basically threatened and shamed into apologizing for something that was deliberately used out of its proper context as a local broadcast for Clevelanders.
While King and others go on platitudes about what analysis should be, they’re apparently trying to hold Bernie Kosar to the same standards that Dan Dierdorf is held to on a national CBS broadcast of a regular season NFL game. If that’s what pre-season broadcasts are supposed to be like then it’s news to me. What’s next? Are we going to start micro-analyzing things that Doug Dieken says on regular season local radio broadcasts and call him out for being a homer on occasion? We’ve already seen some of that in baseball when Tom Hamilton came under fire for getting upset that Aroldis Chapman threw at Nick Swisher. Someday, maybe that will happen too, but it will be just as disingenuous. At least Tom Hamilton didn’t have to pretend to be sorry about it.
And that, in the end, is what bugs me the most. We’re putting up with this intellectually dishonest grandstanding and pretending like we actually care.
I talked to Scott Raab about watching NFL AM and their hypocritical stance. They did a special one-on-one session to talk about Bernie Kosar’s “inappropriate” comments before going to their next feature where they re-broadcast negative tweets about Mark Sanchez calling him “megafumble.” Then the female host went off on Sanchez’ physical appearance commenting negatively about his fu manchu facial hair. I know it’s a morning show and not a game broadcast, but it’s a national morning show aimed at NFL fans across the entire country.
Again, it doesn’t bother me that they decided to do that segment, but they and we have no idea what we’re doing. We need to just admit it. We don’t know where we’re going anymore as a culture. We’re a chicken with our head cut off. The information is too much, too fast and we end up standing for nothing because we stand for everything. You know, except when we don’t. We’re hypercritical of certain things and make mountains out of molehills when it’s convenient for us as we give gravity to topics that don’t deserve them. We’re so inconsistently selective that our morals and ethics no longer have any meaning. We use the same tones and plays from the playbook to talk about Bernie Kosar that we do to talk about Aaron Hernandez.
And so we’ll continually get what we deserve from our entertainment ventures. Then when the person with the biggest and, most importantly, easiest platform shames someone into apologizing for something they might not actually be sorry for, it will all be a big glad-handing celebration of false moral standing. It will be a moral standing that we really can’t begin to claim for ourselves due to our inconsistency, insincerity and overwhelming sense of self-importance. I know it’s just football and entertainment, but this whole thing was supposed to be fun and we’ve turned it into something more.
I’m going to just stop thinking about it before I get more depressed.
Photo: John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer