CLEVELAND Ohio –- Bernie Kosar slurs his words because:
• He has post-concussion syndrome.
• He refused to wear a mouthpiece as a Browns and Miami Dolphins quarterback and suffered severe dental injuries.
• He has a drinking problem.
• The Browns kept him on the playing field with doses of the addictive pain-killer oxycodone (trade name, oxycontin; street name, oxy, OC, O).
The latter is alleged as the cause in the new book "Blood Sport – Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era" by the Miami New Times' Tim Elfrink and Newsday's Gus Garcia-Roberts. Excerpts of the book, detailing the doping that made the currently suspended Rodriguez baseball's No. 1 drug offender, appeared in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated.
The Browns controversially removed Kosar as a television analyst for their exhibition games this off-season, citing sharp criticism he directed at a St. Louis Rams backup quarterback last season. Kosar's sometimes slurred diction has often been criticized by some viewers.
"Blood Sports" says he was steered to the Biogenesis "anti-aging" clinic by Julio Cortes, a defensive end on the 1983 Miami Hurricanes team that Kosar led to the national championship. The connection occurred after a central figure in baseball's steroid scandal moved his offices in late 2011 to Coral Gables, directly across the street from the University's Alex Rodriguez Park.
Suffering from a bad back and knees that resulted from a short, violent football career at The U and with the NFL Seattle Seahawks and teams in the Canadian Football League, Cortes visited Biogenesis because he had gone to the same Miami high school, Christopher Columbus, as its founder, Tony Bosch.
Known as "Dr. Tony," Bosch had only a two-year degree from a medical school in Belize in Central America and was unlicensed to practice medicine in the United States. He had gotten good results with a complicated regimen of steroids, amino acids, testosterone, and human growth hormone, prescribed in Florida by licensed doctors willing to be paid for doing so to patients they never examined.
The state, say the authors, became a fertile breeding ground for (the) age-conquering crusade."
In reality, "anti-aging" was a flimsy euphemism for steroid doping. "The state had always prided itself on its Wild West lack of regulation, particularly in the medical market," say the authors. "The Sunshine State encumbered (anti-aging) businesses with virtually no rules."
The book alleges that, along with A-Rod and other elite baseball players, seeking to either regain or increase an illegal performance edge, "a steady stream of ex-Hurricanes and former NFL players started creaking over to Bosch's office for treatment."
Among them was Kosar. "After a twelve-season pro career," say the authors in a sad summary of the Browns' legend, "Kosar has stumbled through a sometimes-incoherent retirement, marred by batty behavior, bankruptcy and drunk-driving arrests."
Bosch's records indicate that Kosar was a patient and that at least one shipment of drugs was made, for which Kosar paid $600.
The authors paraphrase Cortes' view this way: "Compared to the highly addictive painkillers that NFL teams shovel at players, Cortes says Bosch's treatments were a healthier alternative."
In a direct quote, Cortes said, "We can either do this or get back on the oxy. You read the papers about Kosar, and he's a mess. He's slurring his words from the medication, from the oxy that the Browns gave him."
Withdrawal from oxycodone is considered one of the most painful ordeals a drug addict faces, with body aches much worse than the flu and a sensation of pins and needles stabbing his muscles.
The authors conclude: "If he gave Kosar testosterone, Bosch broke the law. But it's hard to see immediate harm in two ailing middle-aged men snagging testosterone if it helped heal their aches. After all, they had legitimate health problems and were certainly old enough to know what they were getting into."