Cleveland Browns are smart to embrace Earnest Byner
Former Cleveland Browns running back Earnest Byner is helping out the coaching staff at OTAs this year.
Earnest Byner’s name is often associated with one of the most infamous plays in NFL history, but that should not take away from his accomplishments in an otherwise illustrious career.
The AFC Championship Game played against the Denver Broncos on January 17, 1988 is better known as the game where The Fumble occurred, which is something that needs no explanation.
The play was highlighted in the new documentary, Believeland, where an emotional Byner apologizes to Cleveland fans for the play.
He had to deal with the crazy people who fail to see players as human beings, receiving hate mail and threats for an honest mistake in a football game.
But that play was played nearly thirty years ago, so it may be time to let it go.
The Cleveland Browns organization does not hold anything against Byner, nor should they. An article on clevelandbrowns.com explains how Byner has been invited to help the team during OTAs. From the article:
"Byner, dressed in team gear from head to toe, has been in the Browns office in Berea working coaching hours since the beginning of OTAs. The former Browns running back not only carries 14 years of playing experience, but also logged 10 years with four different teams as a running backs coach. His last stint ended in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he’s stayed in tune with the game through a variety of endeavors."
Not only is Byner qualified because of his playing days, but his coaching experience makes him a great asset for this young team. He can work with both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. as they try to reach the 1,000-yard mark, a benchmark that has been hard for Browns running backs to reach since 1999. The last to do it was Peyton Hillis in 2010.
The release of Believeland should finally show those who still had animosity toward Byner that he is truly sorry for what happened, even though it is clear to see that there is no need to apologize. But there are sadly those who are irrational when it comes to sports, so an apology should help bring them around.
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Byner’s presence in camp is another example of Hue Jackson doing whatever it takes to make this team great again, and there is no better influence than players who had made the team great in the past.