The Cleveland Browns of the mid-late 1980s never won a Super Bowl – in fact, they never even reached a Super Bowl – but they were still pretty darn good. They made the playoffs five straight years from 1985-89 and reached the conference championship three times.
As good as the Browns were on the field, they weren’t exactly short on personality, either.
“No question. It was ever a dull moment that went by,” former Pro Bowl running back Earnest Byner said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “We really had excellent teammates – guys that held each other accountable, that pushed each other, that challenged each other and nobody took anything personal. That team was started and was put together by Mr. (Art) Modell and Ernie Accorsi, but it was molded by Marty Schottenheimer.”
In 1985, the Browns went 8-8 and lost their first playoff game to the Dolphins. In 1986, they went 12-4 and hosted the AFC Championship.
Byner said that Schottenheimer was “crucial” to the team’s improvement.
“Marty, first of all, we had the nutcracker (drill) in training camp,” Byner said. “The first day of training camp – nowadays they don’t get in pads the first couple days – but we were in pads, and we had the nutcracker drill. But Marty actually started us off in a wave of physicality that showed accountability. The day after the games, Marty was putting that dot on guys and holding us accountable about making plays or not making the plays the way that it was supposed to be. So Marty gave us a definite temperament but also that accountability level and the ownership of the team that he definitely trusted the guys.”
Byner, who was featured in “Believeland” for “The Fumble” in January 1988, never really got over the pain and enduring legacy of that moment. After the Cavaliers won the NBA title in June, however, things have gotten better for Byner. The fact that the Indians are up 3-1 in the ALCS is icing on the cake.
“The success of ‘Believeland,’ the popularity of ‘Believeland’ and also the healing aspect of it – for me and for the city and for a lot of fans – has definitely opened up a lot of doors for us,” Byner said.