The other quarterbacks understand the gravity of their situations. Paul McDonald, last year's starter, is all but gone, paying the price for a lousy '84 season.
That leaves Danielson, who is probably first in Schottenheimer's heart—but not in the fans'. Danielson laughs now about the adversity he knows will come if he plays and Kosar sits: "It will be like 60,000 people being here to see Bruce Springsteen and having Andy Williams show up instead," he says. The point is, Kosar almost certainly won't sit. Saviors require immediate employment. Says Danielson, "I may be the best quarterback and not start, or I may be the second-best quarterback and start. I can handle it either way."
Oddly, Kosar is nobody's prototype quarterback. Jenny Kellner, a columnist for The Miami News, wrote that Kosar "scrambles with the grace and speed of a giraffe on Quaaludes." Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but Kosar will not remind anyone of Fran Tarkenton—witness his futile Saturday night attempt at scrambling. But that is offset by his ability to handle pressure, making him more of a Dan Fouts type, which is not all bad. As for speed, he has none. "When I run," he explains, "I'm not in a hurry."
Kosar doesn't have the strong arm of the Bert Jones, Terry Bradshaw or Elway variety, but he says, "I can make all the throws asked of me." Just like a guy named Johnny Unitas. In fact, Accorsi, who used to be general manager at Baltimore, assigned Bernie No. 19, Johnny U's old number.
It was Accorsi who contrived to get Kosar—after the Browns learned that, lo and behold, Bernie wanted them—via a trade with Buffalo for the first pick in the June 2 supplemental draft. Kosar, scheduled to graduate in June, had decided to give up his remaining two years of college eligibility. Houston wanted him for trade purposes, Minnesota wanted him, period, and those two clubs argued that he should go through the regular April draft because he had an agent and thus was already a pro. But NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle ruled that Kosar could wait and go through the supplemental draft if he so chose. Which he did. The Browns wound up giving Buffalo four draft choices, including two No. 1s, and Kosar was back home in Ohio.
"Bernie beat the system," says one Browns official, "by going to school and passing his classes. Maybe there's a lesson there."
And maybe there's a lesson in the way Kosar plays football. He can look real funny trying to get the job done. Coaches prefer that quarterbacks throw directly overhand. Kosar can do that, but more often he throws three-quarters. When he's on the run, he generally throws sidearm, a technique with even fewer advocates. Oh yes, did we mention the underhand tosses and the backhand flips? Schottenheimer has a reasonable attitude on this: "If a player does things wrong but the play works, that's fine with me. It shows a certain resourcefulness." Yes. Kosar is a winner with that glorious knack of doing things wrong—if you're hung up on mechanics—but making them work out right. "It may not look pretty, but you know me," he says. "Whatever it takes. Mainly, it's unbelievable to me how mental this game is."
And that is where Kosar truly excels. Modell says, gushingly, "Here is a guy with a 3.8 grade average and a double major in political science and the International Monetary Fund." Well, no. He had a 3.27 average with a major in finance and a minor in economics. That's O.K., Art. Everyone knows how it is when you're in love. "It's not that I'm smart," says Kosar. "I just do what comes naturally. And fortunately, that seems to have been working out O.K., so far."
Yes, sir. Tight end Ozzie Newsome, the team's best receiver, likes the idea that "When [Kosar] can't make the prototype pass, he can fling one. That's just another advantage he has."
One of the hardest things for Kosar will be the comparisons with Miami's Dan Marino—who didn't start until the sixth regular season game of his rookie year. Cousineau cautions wisely, "Everybody has his own timetable, and it's extremely dangerous to put Bernie on Danny's. Bernie will evolve at Bernie's pace. But I'll tell you this, once he makes a decision, he doesn't hesitate." True. Visiting not long ago in Cousineau's condo, Kosar mentioned he liked the place. Bingo, sold.