Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar expressed hope that WKYC would reconsider its decision to oust him as the color commentator for the team’s preseason game broadcasts, but the TV station won’t budge.
“The decision has been made, and we’re going to stick to that decision,” WKYC President and General Manager Brooke Spectorsky said Thursday afternoon in a phone interview with the Beacon Journal.
Spectorsky also denied Kosar’s assertion that he has been removed from the broadcast booth because of his slurred speech, which he attributes to concussions he suffered as a player. He also stressed that Kosar has been offered different roles without a pay cut, including one on pregame telecasts for preseason games.
Solomon Wilcots will replace Kosar as an analyst during preseason games, and Jim Donovan will remain the play-by-play man, the Browns and WKYC announced Wednesday.
In response to the news, Kosar issued the following statement Thursday morning:
“I was informed yesterday by the Cleveland Browns and WKYC that I have been replaced as a 2014 preseason game day color commentator. I believe that this decision stems from my slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL. This is very unfortunate, as I believe my football acumen and ability to describe what is happening on the field, has been well received by Cleveland Browns fans.
“I love to put the personal touch, pride in the Browns, and pride in our Cleveland community into the broadcast. Being able to share these preseason games with my fellow Cleveland Browns fans is truly one of the remaining joys in my life. I would hope that WKYC would reconsider utilizing my in-game talents and overlook my concussion-induced impairment. I want everyone to know that I still bleed Brown and Orange.”
Spectorsky said he was “taken back” by Kosar’s statement and that his slurred speech was not a factor in the decision.
“That’s never been a part of our discussions,” Spectorsky said. “Bernie has been on our air for seven years, and there’s nobody that feels stronger about supporting him on that problem that he has. It had nothing to do with this change whatsoever. It never came up in the conversation. So I think [issuing the statement] is part of advice that he’s getting from his advisers. It has nothing to do with our decision.”
Asked to explain the decision, Spectorsky did not cite the controversy in which Kosar became enveloped last year after he harshly criticized former St. Louis Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, the team’s receivers and receivers coach Ray Sherman during a preseason game. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he lost respect for Kosar because of the comments, and former Browns CEO Joe Banner publicly reprimanded Kosar for using what the organization deemed a “personal and unprofessional approach” to his analysis.
“Our decision is strictly based on that we want to freshen up our pregame production, and as the Browns are rebuilding, we wanted to rebuild the approach that we take to covering the games,” Spectorsky said. “We felt that after seven years, it was time for a change, and it’s not like we slammed the door on Bernie. We’ve offered him other programming opportunities, including the pregame show and radio and web and no change in compensation or anything like that.”
Spectorsky said he called Kosar after the statement was released Thursday morning but has yet to hear back. He doesn’t know whether Kosar will accept any of the new roles he has been offered.
“No, it’s in his court,” Spectorsky said. “So why he’s coming out and blaming everything that we’re letting him go because of concussion issues is just totally off base. There’s just no basis for it that I’m aware of. It wasn’t any discussion I had with my executives nor with the Browns. So it just sounds like a PR-type approach to things, but there’s no truth to it whatsoever.”
Asked if the statement would affect the offers WKYC has presented to Kosar, Spectorsky said, “Not from my perspective.”
By Nate Ulrich - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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