CLEVELAND — Former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar pleaded no contest today to a reckless operation charge after blaming knee and ankle surgeries for not performing a field sobriety test during a traffic stop last year.
Kosar had been charged with drunken-driving in September, but he entered a plea to the lesser charge and received a $750 fine and suspended jail sentence.
He was pulled over for speeding in suburban Cleveland, and officers said they smelled a strong odor of alcohol. Kosar told an officer he couldn’t perform the standard one-leg stand or walk and turn tests as he had undergone several surgeries on his knees and ankles because of his playing days.
Attorney George Simon did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
A police report said Kosar was driving 74 mph on a 50-mph limit street. According to the report, Kosar had slurred speech and difficulty speaking.
Kosar, who played with Cleveland, Dallas and Miami, has publicly talked about how head injuries sustained during his NFL career have affected his speech, making him sometimes slur his words. He has also been addicted to pain medications and had financial troubles.
The Browns said last week that Kosar was being removed as a color commentator for Cleveland’s preseason games.
Kosar, 50, said he was removed because of slurred speech he attributes to “a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL.”
WKYC-TV issued a statement disputing Kosar’s assertions. In announcing the decision, the Browns said they were in discussions with Kosar about “potential new roles” on pregame telecasts and on the team’s website.
Last summer, Kosar drew criticism for in-game comments about former St. Louis third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens, the Rams’ receivers and assistant coach Ray Sherman. The Browns apologized to the Rams and reprimanded Kosar.
Kosar played for Cleveland from 1985 to 1992 and retired in 1996. He led Cleveland to three AFC title games and is one of Cleveland’s most beloved sports figures.