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.