Former Redskin Byner 'still part of the family' 5 seasons in Washington included Super Bowl win

Ravens notebook

October 23, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Running back Earnest Byner will be doing whatever he can to help the Ravens end a three-game losing streak Sunday against the Washington Redskins. He will also be feeling some pangs of nostalgia.

Some of Byner's most memorable years were spent in a Redskins uniform. He was traded from the Cleveland Browns to Washington in 1989, and played there for the next five seasons.

From 1990 to 1992, Byner rushed for 3,265 yards. His best season was in 1990, when he recorded a career-high 1,219 yards on an NFL-high 297 carries. The next season, Byner rushed for 1,048 yards and played a pivotal role in the Redskins' drive to tTC the Super Bowl, where Washington defeated the Buffalo Bills, 37-24, to claim the Lombardi Trophy.

"I have a lot of great memories going back to play the Redskins," Byner said. "Some of my best years of professional football were spent there. They paid a lot of bills for me. I'm still part of the family. I'll never forget."

Since Byner left Washington to re-sign with Cleveland, the Redskins' roster has been overhauled. Only four players -- cornerback Darrell Green, tight end James Jenkins, running back Brian Mitchell and offensive tackle Ed Simmons -- remain from the Byner years.

Byner said it will be strange not playing at RFK Stadium.

"The fans were great there. I can still remember winning the NFC championship there, and they had the place rocking," he said. "I'm getting chills visualizing that right now."

Dealing with less

Byner, whose role has been reduced to third-down specialist and special-teams performer, said he is dealing with his shrinking presence, but he reminded reporters of the part he played earlier this season.

"When I was starting at running back, we were 3-1. I made some plays. I could have done some things better, but I was contributing to wins," he said. "That should speak for itself. Right now, I'm dealing with the fact that they want Jay [Graham] and Bam [Morris] to play. It's been difficult, but I'm dealing with it."

The Ravens are 0-3 since demoting Byner. He addressed the team in a meeting yesterday.

"Everybody wants to win on Sunday, but who enjoys the preparation of what it takes to be a winner?" he said.

Not a fan anymore

Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden grew up in Washington as an ardent Redskins fan.

His favorite memories include the second quarter that quarterback Doug Williams played -- he threw for four touchdowns -- in Super Bowl XXII, a 42-10 Redskins win over the Denver Broncos.

Then there was the famous John Riggins touchdown run that clinched Washington's 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

But Ogden said there are no warm feelings in the first chance to play his former favorite team.

"There's no significance. None. It's not the same Redskins team that I grew up with," Ogden said. "If I was playing on a team that was located far away from here, it would mean more. But my family [which lives in D.C.] gets to see all of my home games, anyway."

Complacent team

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde said the Ravens "got a little complacent" after starting 3-1.

"And we were a little lucky to win in the Meadowlands [a come-from-behind, 24-23 victory over the New York Giants on Sept. 14]," he said. "We still have some guys who are learning what it takes to prepare and to win in this league every week.

"Now, our backs are up against the wall, and it's in our hands. Nobody can turn it around but the guys in our locker room."

Testaverde saluted the Redskins' top-ranked pass defense, led by cornerbacks Green and Cris Dishman. He also said the Ravens must exploit Washington's suspect run defense to win.

Said Ogden: "We have a very good offensive line and a good running back. My philosophy is, you can game plan this and game plan that, but you know what? It still comes down to your five or six guys [up front] kicking the butts of the five or six guys lined up across from you.

"If you do that, you're going to win. It's been like that since Pop Warner and high school."

Ravens charity event

Tina Byner and Lori Kinchen, the wives of Earnest Byner and tight end Brian Kinchen, announced yesterday that the Ravens Wives Association has organized a "Fantastic Charity Event" to benefit the Ravens/Hopkins Bayview Kids Fund on Dec. 5 at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The event will help establish a pediatric burn unit at Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. It will include dinner, dancing and a silent auction.

For ticket information, call 410-550-1155.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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