Steelers running backs coaching search: Earnest Byner has outstanding experience as a coach and player

Al Messerschmidt

Nevermind The Fumble, Earnest Byner has a great coaching track record.

If not for The Fumble, perhaps Earnest Byner has a stronger legacy in the NFL. That's really unfortunate, because there are few who wouldn't want Byner's careers either as a player or a coach.

The former Browns, Redskins and Browns/Ravens running back amassed 8,261 yards and 56 touchdowns in his pro career which is unfortunately lowlighted by a fumble on the three-yard line against Denver in the 1987 AFC Championship game. Byner already scored twice in that game, and had nearly 200 total yards of offense. A touchdown and extra point would have tied the game at 38. Instead, the Broncos took a safety and kicked off, up 38-33, leaning on their defense to take the conference championship.

That doesn't mean anything in terms of Byner's legacy as a player, though. Despite the fact the league says the Baltimore Ravens were an expansion team in 1996, Byner was the first Ravens player inducted into their Ring of Honor, despite only having played two seasons there.

But his career as a coach is equally impressive. Stints under Joe Gibbs in Washington and Jeff Fisher in Tennessee go along time spent with Baltimore and Jacksonville - two teams with legacies of running the ball successfully with running backs like Jamal Lewis and Fred Taylor.

Most recently, Byner was the running backs coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Byner oversaw rookie Doug Martin's 1,926 yards from scrimmage in 2012, a total that ranks second all-time in Bucs history.

Byner was released along with Greg Schiano and the rest of the Buccaneers staff after a bizarre 2013 season. Little, if anything, could be blamed on a position coach, but his track record is outstanding - including, and perhaps most importantly, a two-year stint as Titans running backs coach alongside new Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

Fumble or otherwise, Byner has an outstanding resume, and if the Steelers go with an outside candidate for this job, it seems likely Byner would at least get a phone call gauging interest in the job.

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