Say it ain't so, Bernie.
Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar tore into the club's front office on Monday, making national headlines with his sharp words.
In an interview on WTAM's Mike Trivisonno Show, Kosar called the Browns' front office "uneducated," blaming the culture as the culprit behind Sunday's 30-0 loss to the Bengals, not Johnny Manziel or Mike Pettine.
A well-respected fan favorite in Cleveland, Kosar is not known for taking shots at the front office, unlike Jim Brown. That's what makes Kosar's comments so surprising.
At the start of the interview, available in its entirety here, Kosar was ready with a strong message. A few sentences into the interview, Kosar said:
"When you have a front office that's uneducated, and I'm not talking about just the coach, it's way above him, they don't know how to lead and organize and set a culture for doing what you need to do to win in the NFL."
The conversation quickly shifted to Manziel, a topic of importance to Kosar, a nine-year veteran Cleveland quarterback. While Kosar said Manziel "wasn't ready" on Sunday, Kosar turned the attention to the front office.
Kosar used the story of the "wreck this league" text as an example. As the story goes, Manziel's message to quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains was forwarded onto Pettine, Jimmy Haslam, and Ray Farmer before the team selected Manziel.
"That's funny and a good story," Kosar said. "But that's not acceptable. That can't happen ... If you're a quarterback coach, you're going to coach the guys we're [the front office] going to get you.
"It makes me want to throw up," Kosar continued. "That's the results you get when you do that stuff."
Trivisonno and co-host Andre Knott tried to ask Kosar what the team's next move should be at quarterback, but Kosar continued to point to the front office as the source of the problem.
"If you keep running it the way you're running it, you may as well do nothing," Kosar said. "Because you're going to kill two more kids coming in here. It will fail."
Kosar evaluated more on the club's culture, using Bill Belichick and the Patriots as an example of a winning team culture.
"The issue is systemically, from a culture in Berea, they've got to get it together," Kosar said. "I don't know anyone who can be consistently successful in winning within this culture and within this organization right now. You just can't play football like this."
Kosar said multiple times that the problem extends beyond Pettine and the players.
"The names change, and the way we do this as a culture above them is still the same," said Kosar. "You can't put these kids in these spots. It's almost abuse."
The question is this: is Kosar correct?
Of course, folks on Twitter immediately took sides. Most Clevelanders seem to agree with the beloved former Browns quarterback.
#Browns BERNIE KOSAR CRUSHES RAY FARMER AND JIMMY HASLAM RIPS ENTIRE BROWNS ORGANIZATION #IN BERNIE WE TRUST— tombroadstock (@tbroadstock) December 16, 2014
Good for Bernie Kosar I am in full agreement with his bashing of the Browns— Clark W. Griswold (@PGibbs13) December 16, 2014
Bernie Kosar absolutely ripping the Browns front office. I love it— Mike Jones (@mikej0nes13) December 16, 2014
Others in the Twitterverse weren't as kind, citing Kosar's history with alcohol in mean-spirited tweets.
Will Burge, a Browns columnist at Beacher Report, said that Kosar sounded "foolish" in his comments. Burge pointed out that the Browns replaced Kosar with Solomon Wilcots in the broadcasting booth this preseason. According to Burge's argument in his article, Kosar has waited to express his anger over that situation until now.
Whether or not Kosar is biased, the Browns' front office has been objectively inept, for the most part, since the team returned in 1999. As local comedian Mike Polk Jr. so aptly put it in his famous "Factory of Sadness" video in 2011, "It is actually statistically harder for a team to be this consistently bad than it is for them to be occasionally, accidentally good."
On the flipside, Farmer seems to have the team pointed in the right direction. Before Brian Hoyer's struggles, the Browns stood at 7-4 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. Keep in mind this success came despite the loss of Alex Mack, the 10-game suspension of Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron's struggles with injury, and a hot and cold rushing attack.
As a whole, it's hard to argue against the idea that the Browns' front office has caused a succession of losing seasons in Cleveland. However, it is very early to judge Farmer and the front office. We're not even one season into the Farmer-Pettine era, and Manziel has started just one game. It might be a bit early to come to a conclusion.
Kosar has valid points, but is he right to condemn the front office so soon?
Either way, it's easy for Browns fans to agree and empathize with Kosar on his frustrations with the team.
"I've had a headache for 15 years," he said. "And it's getting worse."
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