An affable fellow, Kosar tried to play the good soldier this year. But those around him say he was puzzled and hurt by his benching, and most Browns figured that either he or Belichick would be history at the end of the season. Still, few players expected last week's development, and when it happened, few were supportive of the decision to release Kosar. "It's just very frustrating," said cornerback Terry Taylor, "because there's nothing we can do about it as players."
Added running back Leroy Hoard, "I don't think [Kosar] has lost his skills. I don't think this is about diminishing skills: this is about Bill wanting to go a certain way, and so that's what he chose to do."
The bottom line is that Kosar refused to follow Belichick's offensive script. Kosar is a cerebral quarterback who needs to have the freedom to switch plays at the line in order to be effective, and Belichick viewed Kosar's audibles as an affront to his authority. Some Brown players have said that even when Kosar's play selection worked, Belichick would scream at him to stick to his instructions.
Belichick won't discuss Berniegate in detail, but he says, "I've even heard that I sat Bernie because I don't like him," he says. "Anyone who thinks I'd do all this work and then sit some guy because I don't like him—that's insane."
The insanity has been nurtured by much of the Cleveland media, with whom Belichick has been at war almost since day one. Not surprisingly, Belichick has popped off, Parcells-style, at a few reporters. Beat writers even joke that management has bugged the Browns' press room or has a double-agent sportswriter feeding the team information. ("Hmmm," says team publicist Kevin Byrne, "that's not a bad idea.")
"I don't have anything against the media," Belichick says. "I answer their questions every day. I'll talk about the game, but the rest of the stuff isn't what I get paid for." Fair enough. In the NFL you get paid to win. Put up or shut up. Obviously, Belichick grasps this. "It's just better to do your talking on the field," he says. Then, all done talking, he heads back to the sanctuary of his office.