Belichick: "I Wish I Handled It Differently"

Bill Belichick talks about the parting of the ways between Bernie and the Browns, and discusses his feelings looking back eight years.

Bill Belichick has had plenty of time to think about it. Eight years to be exact.

He knows for a fact he would have handled things differently, but just exactly what he would have done, he doesn't know. He just knows for a fact that the whole Bernie Kosar fiasco could have been handled better, much better.

"Looking back on it, I wish that I would have handled it a little bit differently", he said during a one-on-one interview during the week leading up to last Sunday's Browns-Patriots game. "It certainly didn't come out the way that was really good for anybody.

"Sometimes in coaching you just have to make tough decisions and you have to go with them. That's what I did. I wish that it could have worked out a little bit differently, sure, just because of my strong feelings for Bernie; the Browns' organization and all off the supporters that we had all over Northern Ohio."

As has been well-documented over the years, the day Bernie was fired - Nov. 8,

1993 - was probably the turning point in the Browns' history.

Belichick cited Kosar's "diminishing skills" as the reason for the breakup.

Even though the team went on to make the playoffs the following year, things were never the same after Belichick and Owner Art Modell turned a cold shoulder on everyone's favorite son.

Were Bernie's skills diminishing? It goes without saying that he wasn't the same player he was in 1985 when he first entered the league. But it also goes without saying that he didn't need to be unceremoniously kicked out of town, either.

Asked how he could have handled the situation differently, Belichick said, "It's hard to say. I haven't gone back and tried to revisit the whole thing. But I wish it could have worked out better for all of us."

Belichick declined to answer a question in regards to how much influence then-player personnel director Mike Lombardi played in Bernie's departure.

"Let me pass on that one," he said graciously.

Many people believe it was Lombardi who orchestrated Kosar's departure, first by going out and signing Vinny Testaverde during the previous off-season, then by continually pointing out Kosar's flaws.

The one thing that Belichick made perfectly clear during our conversation was the deep admiration he has for Kosar.

"I've always had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Bernie Kosar," Belichick said. "Of all the players I've coached, I've never had one who worked any harder, been more prepared or had football be any more important to him than Bernie Kosar.

"I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for his work ethic and his competitiveness and what he was able to accomplish as a football player.

"Unfortunately, we went through a difficult time and it was tough. It was tough on both of us. But as far as respect and admiration, it couldn't get any higher for any player.

"You would love to have every player on your team have the attitude and competitiveness and resourcefulness that he had."

Belichick said the fact the Browns made the playoffs in 1994 and that Bernie was able to go on and play in a Super Bowl with the Cowboys, in his mind, pretty much closed the door on that chapter.

"We moved on in '94 and had a good year," Belichick said. "And Bernie had a good year when he went down to Dallas. He was able to get a Super Bowl ring and I have a couple of those, too.

"I'm sure that (ring) means a lot to him. I think he deserves it. He was a terrific player in this league."

Belichick concluded by saying, "There is no way I can express or show how much respect and admiration I have for Bernie Kosar as a person and a football player.

"Anybody who has had the opportunity to work with him, especially as closely as I did, could see that. I have just a tremendous amount of admiration for him."

Some will argue that had that admiration been present in 1993, things would not have transpired the way they did.

Unfortunately, there is no way to change history and, from here until eternity, Nov. 8, 1993, will remain one of the darkest days in team history.


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