Earnest Byner’s fumble recovery is by far his most impressive play

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Former Packers tight end Brandon Bostick became a historical footnote (and a former Packer) by mishandling an onside kick in the NFC Championship Game.

And the now-Vikings tight end said yesterday that another player with a famous mistake, Earnest Byner, had helped him through the last few weeks of guilt.

For Byner, the decision to reach out was an easy one, after the years he’s lived with “The Fumble.”

I felt like I had to speak to him,” Byner said, via Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The legendary Browns running back got in touch with his old friend Sam Gash, the Packers running backs coach, to exchange numbers with Bostick. A week after the game, the two spoke by phone, with Byner pointing out all the many factors that led to the loss that weren’t Bostick’s fault.

The empathy was appreciated, even if Bostick had no recollection of why Byner was being empathetic.

“He was like ‘I wasn’t even born yet,'” Byner said with a laugh of the Jan. 17, 1988 AFC Championship Game, which was just over 16 months before Bostick came into the world.

Byner too changed teams, being traded to Washington, which he said was necessary.

“I needed the change at that time,” Byner said. “[The Fumble] grew and it was weakening me emotionally and spiritually. . . .

“When we talk he listens very intently. But I need to meet him to feel his spirit. We’re going to go about making this connection. We might do some training. I want to get into his mind a bit so I can help him best.”

Byner has certainly already done that, and his willingness to help others through his experiences shows that while some Cleveland fans might define him by a fumble, his recovery has been far more impressive.

32 responses to “Earnest Byner’s fumble recovery is by far his most impressive play

  1. I know a lot of people remember Byner for that fumble, but I remember him as a GREAT Football player.

    He could do everything. Run, Block, Catch.

    I would have had him on my team any day.

  2. Too bad Byner is remembered for that Fumble….He wasn’t a fumbler, and was a workhorse horse back for Cleveland then Washington…..A great trade for the Skins!!!.. Classy guy and I am glad he is trying to help this kid….Doesn’t surprise me a bit

  3. Byner went on to have a pretty decent career with the Redskins in between his stints with the Cleveland team.

  4. Nothing better to help you rise above something like this than talking with someone who’s been through it before.

    This Packers fan hopes that Bostick does rise above it and it doesn’t define his career. Success to you in your future Brandon.

  5. Cleveland fans don’t define Earnest Byner by his fumble. I’ve read two articles here in the last two days where PFT seems to define him by his fumble, but like Brandon Bostick, you guys probably weren’t born yet to have a perspective.

  6. I was never mad at Earnest for that fumble. Dude was playing his heart out and was trying his best to cross that goal line and I gave him credit for that. Things sometimes don’t go your way. He’s a stand up guy.

  7. Cleveland fans don’t define Byner by The Fumble. He was a hard working, blue collar player that many fans loved. Truth be known, the Browns fell behind in the game against Denver and Byner played fiercely and brought them back into the game. Without his effort all game the Browns would never have been in the position to win. Many fans were also upset that Modell traded him for Mike Oliphant.
    I’m glad to see that he’s reaching out to help Brandon Bostick.

  8. I’ve also never heard, even once, when referring to the fumble- any fan mention his name with it. Or ever knock him for it. He was one of the main reasons we were a winning team.

  9. This is amazing… other than one post that was 1-2 for thumbs up/ down, all of the posts have zero! thumbs downs… Don’t think I’ve ever seen an article on here where everyone was in such agreement! Guess that means that people really do respect class acts… no matter what team they are pulling for…

  10. byner was a class act throughout his career, including his time with my ECU pirates.

    while cleveland may not define him by the fumble, the larger nfl fanbase probably does. which isn’t fair, but byner knows by now life isn’t fair, and he’s a stronger man for it…

  11. Without his effort all game the Browns would never have been in the position to win

    Amen to that. Everybody of age at the time saw that game, he was a hell of a player.

  12. Classy guy. Byner got a bad rap and was dealt from Cleveland, but anyone who watched the game knows that we wouldn’t have been in the game if not for Byner. Webstar Slaughter badly missed a block on the Jeremiah Castille, who was the one who caused the fumble. Had Slaughter made that block then Byner would have walked into the endzone and we would have won that game.

    But I digress. Byner stepping up and helping this man deal with this loss that he feels a personal responsiblility for. The hardest thing to deal with in life is overcoming obstacles, but there is no manual in which we can refer to to help us with that. Having someone who has dealt with a similar issue is a great help, and a testiment to a great human being to be there for another.

  13. Big difference in what Bostick did and what Byner did. Bostick is just a plain ignorant bone head who can’t listen to instructions which were given to him. I doubt hitting him with a shovel a long side the head would wake that goof ball up. But if you can’t keep your head in the game you shouldn’t be on the team.

    That being said it I don’t blame him for the loss. There were plenty of others things that cost the Packers that game.

  14. The Packers lost the game when the coach chose to kick TWO field goals from @ the ONE YARD LINE in the first quarter. That told EVERY player on the field that the coach had no confidence in his team to move the ball even one freaking yard!!!!

  15. I’m old enough to have watched that game where Byner fumbled. It was a freaky thing when it happened, and in no way representative of what kind of player Byner was.

    If the Browns had played better, the game wouldn’t have been so close so late in the game. But we don’t think about that. It is that play that people remember. And it is part of the sequence in the legend of heartbreak:

    Red Right 88
    The Drive
    The Fumble
    The Cut
    The Move

    I hope when the Browns finally get it together and win a Super Bowl, that we fans don’t become insufferable. Remember when people felt sorry for long suffering Red Sox fans? Hard to believe, right?

  16. The big difference between then and now.. THE INTERNET! The crap storms and troll attacks are something that just didn’t exist in any way like they do now. I don’t think Byner had it 1/100th as bad as this kid is getting it. Good on Byner for being class. Beautiful move.

  17. When I think of Ernest Byner I think of how helped the Cleveland Browns to 2 straight AFC Championships and then helped my Redskins win the SB over the Bills.

  18. Back in 88′ there was no internet for us to slam Bostick on. Poor kid! Hope he’s able to bounce back. Many of us don’t even remember Byner’s fumble, we just remember he was one of the tough one’s!

  19. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting EB here in NC and even play a round of golf with him and watch a couple Browns games with him. Yeah pretty cool. And that doesn’t surprise me at all he is a very easy guy to talk with and I’m sure he will be able to help the guy to deal with it. Plus, I don’t think of Earnest fumbling that ball either that was a strip he didn’t fumble it.There’s a difference to me for sure.. and I told him that. Get his book it’s a great story and then some.
    Everyboby Fumbles..

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