To continue our celebration of the franchise’s 75th anniversary, we’re launching “Browns Countdown: Top 75 Moments” presented by Bridgestone. Over the next month, through videos, articles and more, we’ll be highlighting the top 75 moments in Browns history. Our video tributes, which will be available at ClevelandBrowns.com, the Browns’ mobile app and the Browns’ official YouTube Channel, will dive deep into the top 20 while our articles will put the spotlight on a number of different moments that are sprinkled throughout the top 75.
We’re moving down to No. 35, which highlights the debut of one of the Browns’ most storied quarterbacks.
The first snap of Bernie Kosar’s NFL career did not go as planned.
As 70,000 fans watched in Cleveland Stadium, Kosar, whom the Browns selected first overall in the 1985 supplemental draft, crouched down, felt the football snap into his hands from the center and … dropped it.
The fumble, which was recovered by the Patriots and led to a field goal, certainly rattled the nerves of Kosar, a Youngstown native and lifelong Browns fan ready to fulfill his childhood dream. He entered the Browns’ Week 5 game against the New England Patriots on Oct. 6, 1985, at the end of the first half after starter Gary Danielson exited with an injury.
A botched snap was never how Kosar envisioned his beginning.
“I just dropped it,” he said. “Quite honestly, I was looking ahead. I was taking something for granted and thinking about reading the defense.”
But the miscue also set the stage to give Cleveland a glimpse of one of the most thrilling quarterbacks in franchise history.
Following the fumble, Kosar completed seven consecutive passes and paced the Browns to a 24-20 comeback win over the Patriots. He finished the game with nine completions on 15 attempts and 104 yards with one interception.
Sure, it wasn’t a stat line worthy of any Player of the Week honors, but the Kosar era in Cleveland, one that would be remembered for decades to come, was underway.
Kosar had always wanted to be a quarterback for the Browns. His draft process in getting to Cleveland, however, was among the oddest in NFL history.
At the time, only college seniors and graduates could be drafted in the regular NFL draft or supplemental draft, held in the months following the regular draft. Kosar, the stud quarterback from Miami, was eligible, but he purposely didn’t submit his paperwork for the regular draft — he wanted to find a way to get to Cleveland. In the regular draft, he was expected to go second overall to the Minnesota Vikings, who traded with the Houston Oilers for the pick.
But Kosar’s refusal to submit himself to the regular draft led to commissioner Pete Rozelle essentially giving Kosar his draft choice. Before Kosar made his selection, he informed Browns general manager Ernie Accorsi and owner Art Modell that he was leaning toward the supplemental draft — which would give the Browns a shot to trade up and select him.
So, the Browns made their move. They traded with the Buffalo Bills for the first overall pick of the supplemental draft, and the Browns took him. He was heading to Cleveland.
“All of a sudden, I graduated real quick, and you’re in training camp,” Kosar said in a 2019 interview with Jay Crawford. “It’s seven weeks of training camp with Marty Schottenheimer and the Cleveland Browns. You’re right in the thick of it.”
After nine years in Cleveland, Kosar left the Browns with 21,904 passing yards, 116 touchdowns and a Pro Bowl appearance. He’s third all-time in passing yards in franchise history and was the pilot for one of Cleveland’s most successful eras from 1985-1989, which included five playoff appearances and three trips to the AFC Championship Game.
The whole journey started, however, on that October afternoon against the Patriots. Kosar proved he could rally the Browns to victory after the botched snap, and the rest of his career continued on an upward trajectory.
Earlier this year, the Browns commissioned a panel of historians, alumni and journalists to rank the top 75 moments in Browns history. The group met multiple times to discuss the moments and each member submitted their own final rankings, which were averaged against each other to create the ultimate list.
Author: Anthony Poisal, clevelandbrowns.com