Browns great Bernie Kosar reveals Parkinson’s, liver disease diagnoses: ‘I felt like death’

July 10, 2024
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Cleveland Browns great Bernie Kosar, who led the team to three AFC championship game appearances, says he has liver disease and was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. 

Kosar, 60, was placed on a transplant list in late spring, a revelation he made in a recent interview with Cleveland Magazine. 

Bernie Kosar on the field

Cleveland Browns alum Bernie Kosar on the field prior to a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns Dec. 23, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.  (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The former NFL quarterback explained he was diagnosed with cirrhosis 16 months ago, but he said he had a serious health scare at a Thursday Night Football game between the Browns and the New York Jets he attended last season.

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“My body gave out on me,’’ he told the outlet. “I really felt like I wasn’t going to make it home from the Jets game. I sucked it up, though, and continued to avoid the doctors until the new year. Then, I went into the hospital and got a massive blood transfusion. It was like, ‘How are you alive? How are you moving? Because your hemoglobin levels are so low.'”

Kosar said he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in February by an independent NFL doctor. 

Kosar’s doctors told Cleveland Magazine he will need a liver transplant eventually. 

Bernie Kosar looks to pass

Bernie Kosar of the Cleveland Browns drops back to pass against the Washington Redskins during a game Oct. 13, 1991, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Kosar played for the Browns from 1985-93.  (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

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“Liver disease does tend to fluctuate,” Dr. Anthony Post, a hepatologist for University Hospitals, said. “So, he’s on that wave thing where it goes up and down. He’s in a good phase right now, but anything bad could happen.”

Kosar echoed that sentiment, adding he’s in a much better place health-wise after undergoing treatment and a change in lifestyle. 

“I wish you could have seen me three months ago,’’ he said. “Actually, maybe not, because I looked like death. I felt like death. E. Coli blood poisoning. Heart trouble. And I really thought I needed the liver transplant ASAP. I was in bad shape.’’

Bernie Kosar watches Browns

Cleveland Browns all-time great quarterback Bernie Kosar is introduced to the fans prior to a game between the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns Oct. 16, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“It’s amazing that you can feel as good as I do despite all this stuff going on,” he added. “I can see that what I’m doing is making a difference. I strongly believe it will continue. Time will tell.’’

Kosar led the Browns to three AFC championship game appearances. He was cut by Cleveland coach Bill Belichick in 1993 and went on to win a Super Bowl as a backup with the Dallas Cowboys. He passed for 23,301 yards and threw 124 touchdown passes from 1985 to 1996. He was a star at the University of Miami before being drafted by the Browns first overall in the 1985 supplemental draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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