5 questions with Bernie Kosar about NFL quarterbacks

CLEVELAND, Ohio – In light of the publication of Sports Illustrated's "NFL QB: The Greatest Position in Sports," we check with Bernie Kosar on his view of quarterbacks, from those who played when he was growing up to ones competing today.

Kosar broke into the league in 1985 with the Browns and played 12 years with three teams. He won a championship ring with Dallas in XXVIII in 1994.

Who was your favorite quarterback to watch when you were growing up?
"Being from Youngstown I was obviously a Brian Sipe guy. Then my second-grade teacher was Sister Veronica. Well, I thought it was Daryle Lamonica's mom. So (Oakland Raiders') Daryle Lamonica and (Minnesota Vikings') Fran Tarkenton when I was real little. The sister had a big influence."

Is there a quarterback of any era who stands out as the all-time greatest in your mind?
"I'm not trying to play the fence on this, and I would have answered it a different way five years ago when my era was fresher, but the guys who played the biggest in big games – Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana. But guys today, especially after watching these guys – Aaron Rodgers, (Ben) Roethlisberger. What Tom Brady is doing with minimal weapons around him – it's amazing what guys are doing today. I know the rules are different. ... But there are a lot of impressive quarterbacks today."

The Sports Illustrated book breaks QBs into various types – strong arms, scramblers, for instance. How would you define yourself?
"I obviously would have loved these rules. Not to take away from anybody, but the throws -- throwing the ball up the seams, in the post, deep -- now the ability (is there) to go up and catch the ball without the fear, 'cause you're not allowed to hit a defenseless receiver. You have guys who confidently can go up for the ball without fear of getting decapitated. Ronnie Lott would have been suspended every week (if he were playing today). The game is still physical, but there was a level of physicality and violence that made receivers have that demon in your head telling you to be aware when you went over the middle."

Are there any current quarterbacks who could have played decades ago, with Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath, or with guys before them?
"These guys would do good in any era. They would adjust their games around them. The accuracy of Aaron Rodgers' throws the other night – he throws 50 yards on a dime. (Rodgers went 18-27 for 315 yards and six touchdown passes in a 55-14 win over Chicago on Monday, Nov. 10.) Matthew Stafford getting hit when he throws, basically throwing underhanded, a Kent Tekulve fastball. These guys are really creative in how they come up with plays. They could play in any era and be extremely successful, that's for sure. I really believe that."

What's the future for the position look like – will we see more receivers breaking routes and adjusting in the middle of plays to defenses?
"Some of the old stereotypes have broken down. I love watching Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson play, even Drew Brees. ... I think these guys are introspectively honest with what they do good, and more important what they don't do good. I really see a creative resourcefulness in quarterbacks today. ... Years ago, grade-school (kids) threw it five, six times a day. High school, 10 times a game. Now grade-school through high-school kids are spreading out throwing the ball from birth almost. More kids are gaining experience. That's why I think it doesn't take as long to transition from high school to college and college to the pros. ... now you see spread-throwing offenses in Pee Wee; that never happened before."

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