Cleveland Browns Great Bernie Kosar Diagnosed With Parkinson’s, Liver Failure

The former NFL quarterback said he strongly believes in the ‘power of positive thinking’ and will avoid unhealthy behaviors as he fights his health challenges.
Cleveland Browns Great Bernie Kosar Diagnosed With Parkinson’s, Liver Failure
Bernie Kosar arrives at the Fanatics Super Bowl Party at College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 5, 2019. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Fanatics)
Lorenz Duchamps

Former Cleveland Browns star quarterback Bernie Kosar has revealed that he has been diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s disease and cirrhosis, the third of four stages of liver failure.

“Very Thankful for My Team of Doctors and Everyone’s Wishes. Thinking Positive Thoughts,” the 60-year-old Ohio native said in a July 9 post on X after talking about his health struggles in an interview with Cleveland Magazine.

The Browns great told the magazine that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s by an “independent NFL doctor” in February.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that can affect an individual’s movements by causing uncontrollable tremors, muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, and impaired balance and coordination.

Mr. Kosar also said that he was placed on a list for a liver transplant this past spring and that doctors have informed him that there is more than a 90 percent chance that he will need a new liver.

“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.”

Battling Health Challenges

Mr. Kosar said he had been bothered by liver-related issues for years but brushed them off because he wasn’t sure of the source.

He recalled an episode when his “body gave out” while attending a Browns home game against the New York Jets last December, which confirmed the severity of his condition.

“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,’” he told the magazine.

In January, doctors informed Mr. Kosar that he would likely need a new liver. The Super Bowl XXVIII champion added that he fell ill again in February during a trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII—spending several days in the hospital.

Dr. Anthony Post, a hepatologist for University Hospitals treating Mr. Kosar, expressed optimism and told the magazine that the NFL legend has improved.

“Liver disease does tend to fluctuate. 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,” Dr. Post said, noting the former NFL star will likely need a liver transplant eventually.

Mr. Kosar also feels optimistic about his overall physical health, saying his health has improved since adjusting his lifestyle.

“I have an incredibly specific regimen of juicing, black coffee, and smart supplementation,” he said. “Digestive enzymes are part of it. Intermittent fasting. Basically, I’m using food as medicine and avoiding processed foods, the foods with inflammatory properties.”

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

‘Power of Positive Thinking’

Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of Cleveland Clinic, told the magazine that the cause of Mr. Kosar’s liver failure has not been determined but pointed out that his liver contains “an incredibly high level of an organic solvent, higher than we’ve seen literally in anyone.”

“It’s lived in him for probably 10 years, and we don’t know why,’’ said the doctor.

On the road ahead, Mr. Kosar said he would maintain a positive attitude and avoid unhealthy behaviors, explaining that he strongly believed in the “power of positive thinking.”

“For me, it’s not just a slogan. I believe that positive energy can be manifested in our brains, and I love to live in the space of positivity,” Mr. Kosar told the magazine.

“I want to think about things that are helpful. It sounds like I’m getting on a soap box here, but I visualize good health,” he added. “It’s not so much that I’m trying to sell it to myself, or that I’m in denial, as it is choosing to be positive. Because everybody’s got something. We’ve all got health issues to some degree, we all have bumps in the road.''

Football Career

After graduating from Boardman High School, Mr. Kosar was a star at the University of Miami (UM) before being drafted into the NFL.
Quarterback Bernie Kosar #19 of the Cleveland Browns looks for a receiver during a 1988 NFL game. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Quarterback Bernie Kosar #19 of the Cleveland Browns looks for a receiver during a 1988 NFL game. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Mr. Kosar is considered a local football hero for leading the Miami Hurricanes to their first national championship in 1983. He earned Orange Bowl MVP honors for his performance in the Hurricanes’ 31-30 victory over the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl Classic.

Although he only played two seasons for the Hurricanes, he was inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the UM Football Ring of Honor in 1999.

Mr. Kosar was a first-round NFL supplemental draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, a team he spent nine seasons with. He left the Browns with 21,904 passing yards, 116 touchdowns, and a Pro Bowl appearance.

He is third all-time in passing yards in the Browns’ history and was the pilot for one of the franchise’s most successful eras from 1985-1989, which included five playoff appearances and three trips to the AFC Championship Game.

In 1993, he was a backup quarterback on the Dallas Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XXVIII. He ended his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins and retired in 1996.

Lorenz Duchamps is a news writer for NTD, The Epoch Times’ sister media, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and entertainment news.