Exclusive Q&A with former NFL, UM star QB Bernie Kosar

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You sent in your questions, and Bernie Kosar answered them. A fan favorite in Cleveland and Miami, Kosar talks about his numerous concussions, missing teeth, the famous "spike-play" and his financial situation.

Q: What one thing got you to this financial stage? Kenny Bouy, Naples, FL

A: "The one thing, coming from Youngstown [Ohio] and being really family-oriented . . . my dad was a steel worker and when the mills closed in the early 80s my father didn't have a job. In the late 90s my brother lost his job in San Francisco. Trying to help everybody out and trying to support the family, and then coupled with the divorce, it made for a tough time helping and giving to so many family members who needed money. ... We also donated a lot to charities and foundations. My foundation has put hundreds of kids through college, mostly in the inner-city, in South Florida and northeastern Ohio. I like being involved in the continuing education of young kids."

Q: What schools recruited you besides the University of Miami? Rich M., Sunrise, FL

A: "In the Midwest in Ohio in the early 1980s, it wasn't the wish-bone, it was more of a running-type offense where the teams that were throwing were in the southeast and the far west. So California and Stanford were recruiting me. But, ironically, Mike Shanahan and Charlie Pell were the first two guys to recruit me at Gainesville. So it was UF, University of Miami and Cincinnati that were the teams I was looking at."

Q: What did you think of ESPN's 30-30 special about the Miami Hurricanes? Hurricanes fan, Deerfield Beach, FL

A: "I thought it was pretty accurate. They did a really nice job. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Jim Kelly and a little more with Howard Schnellenberger. I think they deserved more credit for their contributions to the rise of the program. I appreciate the credit, significance and respect that I received early in the show for starting it."

Q: Please tell me that you will be coaching soon at some level. Josh Dunham, Raleigh, NC

A: "Well, besides coaching youth football with my nine-year-old son's team in Weston [Fla.], I finished the last part of the year with the Cleveland Browns and with [owner] Randy Lerner and coach Eric Mangini. We brought in Mike Holmgren to really lead the team. But football is a big part of me. I love being part of it. Actually, this Saturday I'll be coaching with Howard Schnellenberger in the Texas vs. the nation Bowl game that gets kids ready for April's NFL Draft. But I love coaching and working with kids at any level. People get so preoccupied with the material aspect of things and the money and working all the time, I made a decision a few years ago that I wasn't going to miss my kids' childhood. I'm pretty proud of being actively involved with all of my kids. Coaching flag football for my son's team - there's nothing else I'd rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon. The affects we could have on kids, especially at that age, could last them a lifetime. Just like if you don't do it right, it could last negatively with them a lifetime. Kids today have so many challenges that we never had to deal with. If you could spend time with them and give them positive support, you could really make a difference."

Q: Do you still own a part of the Florida Panthers ? What was your role with the team? Jason Friedman, Tamarac, FL

A: "Yes. I really don't have much of a role with the organization. They really haven't used me much at all."

Q: I was wondering if you could give your account of the famous "Fake-spike" play from the Dolphins game against the Jets in 1994 as I know you suggested the play. I was in attendance that day and seeing the Dolphins shut up those Jets fans was one of my all-time favorite sports moments. Darryl Jacobsen, Hazlet, NJ

A: "What's interesting with that . . . not to be cocky but I have an NFL record with 489 yards passing in a playoff game and it was against the Jets in 1986. That was the first time we had run the clock play. But they ended up having it covered. Then for it to come back 10 years later was something special. I basically carried it with me in Cleveland, Dallas and then explaining it to Coach [ Don] Shula and Gary Stevens in Miami. They put it in the Dolphins' system. Dan Marino, myself and Gary Stevens had worked and practiced it all year during our two-minute drills. The timing for it was just perfect during that game. That was the first year, I think, that teams used headsets. So I was wired in on the headset to Marino during the game and we saw that Mark Ingram was on a rookie cornerback. So I called it in. It's one thing to call it . . . I'm kind of proud for conceptually coming up with it years ago, but nobody throws that fade pass any better than Marino."

Q: First of all I want to acknowledge how awesome you are and how much I enjoyed watching you in the early 80s when you played for the University of Miami. My questions to you is this: Having led UM to a championship in 1983 , and sparked the beginning of one of the great college football dynasties of all-time, what is Miami missing about their team currently that is not allowing for that same spark? Gus Villalobos, Aventura, FL

A: "I think UM is getting close. Randy Shannon has done a good job with recruiting. I think with coach [Mark] Whipple having another year in this system and working another year with Jacory Harris, we're going to have a special offense. I really do. I think we have a chance to see the UM offense of old next season. Jacory is going to be really good, and coach Whipple is going to give us the offense that UM fans have grown accustomed to loving. "

Q: Didn't you grow up playing baseball - not football? Dave, Westlake, OH

A: "Yes. As a matter of fact, I was offered a baseball scholarship to Michigan and played more baseball as a kid. When I got to high school, there's nothing like the adrenaline rush and fun you get from playing football. Whether it was playing in high school on Friday nights in Northeastern Ohio, to the Saturday afternoon of college football, to the Sunday afternoons in the NFL, to playing on Monday Night Football, there's not an experience like that in the world. I still miss it."

Q: Why were you always so good about signing autographs for fans? I wish more athletes would be like that. J.R, Miami Lakes, FL

A: "A lot of people aren't signing autographs today because of the market value for them, which is fine. But I've always felt that if you're blessed enough to play professional sports, you should do what you can to make the kids happy. A little kid will remember that. It takes you as much time to sign something than it does to say no. It takes 15 seconds, really, to sign something, be nice, ask them how they're doing in school and see the look in their eyes. And it can last with them a lifetime. I just want to have a positive impact any way I can. I'm proud to do stuff like that."

Q: How many concussions do you think you've had in your career? Rob, Melville, NY

A: "Oh, gosh. That's a tough one. It's interesting because when we were younger, even 10-15 years ago, you called them headaches. You didn't really understand what they were. Players wouldn't even think of coming out of games. I know, myself, I never missed a play because I hit my head. You felt like you were letting your teammates and the fans down. So you played through it and it causes some physical ailments as you get older. But that was a long time ago when we didn't know as much about the ramifications of playing through head injuries. We know a lot more today. ... But I don't recommend that for kids today. Head trauma at an early age could have disastrous effects for young kids."

Q: What role will you have on Mike Holmgren's staff with the Browns? Brian R., Columbus, OH

A: "I'm not sure yet. But I enjoy teaching the younger players, so working with the college kids and helping getting ready for the draft will hopefully be something I get to do with the team."

Q: How devastating was the "Flutie game" loss? Brian Crowley, Fort Lauderdale, FL

A: "That was the only game I celebrated early in my life. It was my birthday that day. With the 25th anniversary of that play, we've seen it a million times. I didn't see it the day of the game because I assumed with them backed up that far we wouldn't let anybody get behind them. It happened so quickly it was a shock when it happened. I just remember walking off the field and a teammate said to me, 'How does it feel to be six seconds from the Heisman?' It's funny today, but it wasn't so funny back then."

Q: Does it still hurt getting so close to leading the Browns to the Super Bowl in 1986 before coming up short? Mike, West Palm Beach, FL

A: "We have this thing where if you don't win the Super Bowl, your whole season is a failure. There's no doubt that's the goal. It was frustrating at the point of coming up short. When you look back at it, I'm more proud now of being in those AFC championship games. I was also happy to play in the NFC Championship game with Dallas because Troy [Aikman] got a concussion, and we beat San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl."

Q: I read about all the teeth you had knocked out over the years from playing football and how little of them you have left. Is that true? Richie, Coral Gables, FL

A: "Pretty much. I've had probably four or five of my back teeth knocked out, two are still missing, and five are fake. Because I audibled so much because Coach Shnellenberger and Coach Shula gave me the luxury of changing the play, the mouthpiece made me sound garbled. In these loud 80,000-seat stadiums, you need the guys to understand and hear you. So it just got to the point where I wasn't even wearing one because I audibled so much. For the kids out there, it was stupid and a mistake. It definitely caused more of the concussions and loss of teeth. I actually have saved all the teeth that have been knocked out and the screws and pins that have been taken out in surgeries. I also had surgery on my jaw multiple times because I cracked the bone four or five times from getting hit. I was so focused in on wanting to make good plays, and because I was so slow I knew I needed to get us in the right play all the time because I knew I couldn't run the ball."

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