Francona has just been called up from the minors. How can Kosar be sure that speck way out there is Francona?
"I can tell by his stance," says Kosar, still staring at the plate. Bernie Sr. looks at his son and smiles. "I'm impressed," he says after a time.
He should be, for it is Kosar's composure, awareness and concentration—his vision, if you will—that make him the great helmsman he is. Last season he completed passes to six or more receivers in 13 of 14 games because he knew where everybody was.
"He's got this ability to accept all surrounding stimuli and utilize it," says Danielson of Kosar and his computerlike mind. "I don't understand it, but he can focus on everything and not overload. I'm not just talking about blocking schemes and coverages. I mean things like how many people are in the stands, how many timeouts are left, where the stadium speakers are, why we have Gatorade and not Coke. He won't just know who the refs are, he'll know where they're from. He'll take all this stuff, feed it in and use it to find an angle, something to help him win."
Kosar, who acknowledges his debt to Danielson, offers this self-analysis: "I remember watching Marino playing with the Dolphins when I was in college. I learned from watching him on the field, but I learned more things from him and from other quarterbacks by watching them off the field—how they conducted themselves, how they dealt with fame, the press, people's attitudes. I like to be the third-person observer, to have that vantage point. That's how I learn.
"Like during last year's players' strike. I went to meetings and very quickly I realized this was a bad situation, useless, horrible. So I started just watching people, not saying anything, seeing what I could learn about unions and front offices and how groups of people are controlled, how people get others to do what they want. It was very interesting."
Kosar stayed out with most of his teammates for the three-game strike, even though he felt no allegiance to the union or its polemics. He realized he should bear no malice toward any Browns players, regardless of their points of view, when the strike ended. In fact many observers speculated that he and Danielson had a well-conceived strategy in mind when Danielson crossed the picket line and led Cleveland to a critical victory in its final "replacement" game. The win helped ensure the Browns of a playoff spot. Neither quarterback will talk about any agreement that may have been made, but as Kosar says, "I think our team held together real well after the strike."
Kosar's analytical skill is the kind that doesn't always get a fellow noticed. Ohio State, Penn State and Pitt all ignored Kosar in high school, though he would have liked to have stayed close to home. Despite his tenuous status as a freshman backup at Miami, his tenacity and field skills ultimately won out, and he put future Heisman Trophy winner Testaverde on the bench for two years. "Hey, Rod Carew wasn't pretty either," notes Browns wide receiver Brian Brennan.
Unfortunately Kosar has had some of his best work wiped out by opposing quarterbacks. Twice his Browns have lost heartbreaking playoff games to Denver and quarterback-magician John Elway. Back in college in 1984 Kosar was bushwhacked by Boston College's Doug Flutie and his 64-yard Heisman-winning "Hail Mary" pass on the last play, which beat Miami, 47-45. It matters little that until that point Kosar had passed for a school-record 447 yards.
"He hates to lose," says Brennan. "Even at golf. He's a 16 handicap, but I remember a real competitive game in Shaker Heights when he shot a 77. How? Pressure. Ever seen his golf swing? It's the ugliest thing in the world. But it's accurate."