(JTA) — Top NFL quarterback prospect Josh Rosen would prefer playing in New York rather than Cleveland because of its larger Jewish community, two ESPN radio shows suggested.
The radio discussions were first highlighted by The Big Lead, a Gannett sports blog.
Stephen A. Smith, speaking Wednesday on his ESPN show, discussed comments earlier this month by Rosen’s former coach at UCLA, Jim Mora. The coach told the NFL Network that if he were running the Cleveland Browns, he would take USC quarterback Sam Darnold over Rosen. Mora said it was “because of fit” and cited Darnold’s “blue-collar, gritty attitude.”
Smith said Wednesday that Mora “may have been doing it to dissuade the Cleveland Browns from picking him because Josh Rosen, according to my sources, would prefer to be in New York. He’s Jewish, there’s a stronger Jewish community, he’d rather be in the New York market than the Cleveland market, blah, blah, blah. We don’t know, but it’s some of the things that we’ve heard.”
The hosts of ESPN’s morning show in Los Angeles — Keyshawn Johnson, Jorge Sedano and LZ Granderson — had suggested a day earlier that Rosen would be more comfortable in New York because his father is a doctor and he comes from a more affluent background.
“When you talk about his religion, I believe Josh is Jewish. New York. Big Jewish community. Much like L.A.,” one host said. “People gravitate to people like them, all I’m saying.”
Another host added: “If he is an observing Jewish individual who is embraced by the local community, that will certainly raise his ball.”
The hosts looked up the cities with the largest Jewish community and Cleveland did not appear in their top 10 despite its some 80,000 members.
The quarterback’s father is Charles Rosen, a noted Jewish orthopedic surgeon. His mother, Liz Lippincott, is Quaker and is the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Wharton, who founded the prestigious Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania.
A 2014 profile noted that Rosen became a bar mitzvah and attends seder every Passover, but he also celebrates Christmas and he called himself “kind of an atheist.”