Submitted by Jen Jones on Sun, 06/21/2009 - 11:35pm
Bernie Kosar is a household name, known for his star football career during the 1980s and 1990s. Kosar quarterbacked for the University of Miami and led the team to its first national championship in 1984. After college, Kosar jumped right into the NFL and played as a successful quarterback for the next 12 seasons. Kosar spent most of those years with the Cleveland Browns, from 1985 to 1993, where he became a favorite of team fans. In fact, Browns fans were enraged when former coach Bill Belichick replaced Kosar with Vinny Testaverde; soon thereafter, Belichick was replaced himself.
Kosar went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and is credited with helping them win an NFC championship against the San Francisco Giants. He played his final season with the Miami Dolphins in 1996. Kosar devised the famous "spike play- that Marino used so successfully against the Jets that season.
Kosar retired to the posh Windmall Ranch Estate in Fort Laurderdale, former home to Dan Marino. Kosar moved into a 9,900 square foot home with seven bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms. The home sits on an acre lot and has an estimated value of $3.5 million.
Kosar stayed active in football after his retirement. He became president of the Cleveland Gladiators, an Arena Football League (AFL) team. Kosar led the Gladiators to the semi-finals in 2008, their first season. Unfortunately, the team reportedly lost $2 to 2.5 million along the way. During this time, Kosar also reportedly borrowed $725,000 from Jim Ferraro, the team's owner. The AFL has suspended play this season, for the Gladiators and the rest of the league.
Kosar's struggle with the Gladiators is one of several setbacks he's experienced over the last few years. In 2007, his wife, Babette J. Kosar, divorced him. This led to a dispute over some of their combined debts. In a statement to The Plain Reporter around this time, Kosar said: "Divorce is difficult enough as it is, especially for someone who wasn't really looking to do that.- So, who owes what and all of that becomes hard, but whatever I owe, obviously I would pay.-
But things quickly went downhill from there. Kosar's major business and real estate investments collapsed as the recession took hold. Last November, his steakhouse restaurant in South Miami folded. Earlier this year, Florida Bank foreclosed on two apartment buildings in Florida that Kosar owned as commercial property through private companies. In connection with those proceedings, Kosar's companies were hit with a combined judgment of more than $6 million. Florida Bank has also commenced foreclosing proceedings on another of Kosar's commercial properties in Florida.
This was all just too much, and Kosar filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past Friday. In the petition, he listed his assets as between $1 million to $10 million, and his debts as between $10 million to $50 million. As part of this debt, Kosar owes $1.5 million in unsecured claims to his former NFL home team, the Cleveland Browns. He also owes almost $10 million total to Florida Bank, his commercial real estate lender. On top of this, Kosar owes: $3.1 million to Key Bank National Association of Cleveland; $3.04 million to his ex-wife, Babette J. Kosar; $725,000 to Jim Ferraro (a debt Kosar now reportedly disputes); more than $300,000 in federal tax liens for unpaid personal income taxes; and almost $60,000 in unpaid property taxes on his Weston home.
Kosar's bankruptcy is a sign of the times, as millions and millions of Americans struggle with financial setbacks. Indeed, Kosar is just the latest in a long list of professional athletes and celebrities to fall on hard times and need the protection of the bankruptcy laws.
If you're dealing with unmanageable debts, it's time to learn how bankruptcy can help you weather this storm. Call a bankruptcy attorney today. In North Carolina, contact The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, with convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, and Wilson. Call (toll free) +1-919-646-2654, to set up a free, confidential debt consultation. Visit www.billsbills.com for more information.
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