By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Bernie Kosar called St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher on Sunday to apologize for the comments he made during the telecast of Thursday night’s preseason opener, a team spokesman said. And Browns CEO Joe Banner released a statement Sunday night in an effort to quash the controversy.
“We don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach that Bernie took with some of his comments during the broadcast Thursday night,” Banner said in the statement. “We’ve spoken to Bernie, he understands that, and we would expect the situation is resolved moving forward. We’ve also reached out to the Rams organization and have shared those same sentiments.”
Kosar, a beloved former quarterback of the Browns, is still scheduled to serve as an analyst for WKYC (Ch. 3) Thursday night, when the Detroit Lions visit FirstEnergy Stadium for the second preseason game. Kosar has not replied to a text message from the Beacon Journal seeking comment.
Either way, Kosar will likely be more careful about his commentary this week after Fisher blasted him during a news conference Saturday.
Fisher lashed out in response to the critical comments Kosar made during WKYC’s telecast of the Browns’ 27-19 win over the Rams. Kosar ripped third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens, the Rams’ wide receivers and the team’s receivers coach.
“First off let me say this, the Cleveland Brown organization is a first-class organization from top to bottom and it has been that for years and years and years,” Fisher said Saturday. “I guess I’m a little disappointed — I feel bad for them — that they had someone doing the broadcast feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team and coaches for that matter.
“I’m just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and for this game. So, to be honest with you, I lost a lot of respect for him. This game is a preseason game. Players are playing hard. It’s highly unlikely that he knew anything about our football team but felt the need to make those comments. I don’t think they were justified.”
After play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan told Kosar a story about Clemens signing an autograph for the pope, Kosar said: “Bless me father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”
Clemens told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his family met the pope, but he didn’t actually sign an autograph for him. He also addressed Kosar’s harsh opinions.
“He gave us a lot of great examples throughout his career of what it’s like to play quarterback, and how to do it at a high level,” Clemens said. “Unfortunately, he also gave us a couple of examples in his commentating career of what not to do.”
Kosar also called the Rams’ receivers “horrible.” Donovan then asked Kosar, “What if some of their parents are watching?” Kosar replied by saying, “I would be embarrassed.”
Kosar also took a shot at Rams receivers coach Ray Sherman.
“You know, I’m checking through the itinerary here of guys, of coaches to see who the receiver coach is, to make sure I don’t know [who] this guy is,” Kosar said. “Because he’s not doing very good either.”
Sherman told the Post-Dispatch: “I don’t worry about people like that. Hopefully, he’ll get himself some help because evidently he’s saying things that he really doesn’t have any knowledge about. He doesn’t know what the routes are. He doesn’t know what guys are supposed to do.”
And when asked how Clemens played against the Browns, Fisher defended his player.
“Again, Bernie’s got his issues — they’re well documented,” Fisher said. “Kellen played well. He played hard and made plays. He got guys deep and had a drop. He played well.”
Kosar also received backlash from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who wrote the following on Twitter on Saturday night: “My question for Kosar after comments in Cle-StL preseason game: Were you drinking? Good guy. But waaay over the top here.”
Now the Browns and Kosar are hoping their apologies are accepted and they can move on.
Back in action
Running back Montario Hardesty and tight end Brad Smelley returned to practice Sunday after missing significant time with hamstring injuries. It was Hardesty’s first action since July 31 and Smelley’s first practice since Aug. 1.
Hardesty participated in individual drills but not team drills. He’s listed as the second running back on the depth chart, but he likely needs to stay healthy and produce this preseason to secure a roster spot, especially with the emergence of third-string running back Dion Lewis. The Browns have three exhibition games remaining.
“Hardesty coming back, hopefully that continues,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “There is still a lot of preseason left, and he’ll have that opportunity to show us.”
As for Smelley, he took some reps in team drills with the second-string offense.
Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo doesn’t feel guilty about repeatedly beating Rams backup left tackle Joe Barksdale, a former teammate at Louisiana State University, in the preseason opener.
“Nah, it was fun,” Mingo said. “We joked about it after the game, and it was all fun. But it felt good to get him one more time.
“In college, [we faced each other] pretty much every day. His senior year was my redshirt sophomore year, I believe.”
Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, had two quarterback hits and a sack that was nullified because the Browns accepted a penalty Barksdale committed by tripping his old college buddy. Mingo used a variety of pass-rush moves to win the battle.
“You can’t go in there with one fastball,” Mingo said. “You’ve kind of got to play off the guy that’s blocking you and use his energy to help make the play.”
Laughing off blooper
Tight end Jordan Cameron has been razzed by quarterback Brandon Weeden for letting a pass in the preseason opener deflect off his face mask before wide receiver Greg Little jumped to snag it.
“My forehead still hurts,” Cameron said. “I just took my eyes off it. It happens.
“He slung it in there. We worked on it. We’ll make it happen next time.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.