This is the first post in a series that will take a look back at the best trades the Redskins have made in the history of the franchise. At the conclusion of the top 10 trades, we will vote to choose the very best trade. The posts will be random as far as the year the trade happened, today we focus on the Mike Oliphant for Earnest Byner deal from 1989. On May 5, 1989, Bobby Beathard "retired" as General Manager of the Washington Redskins. Luckily for Redskins fans, he gave us a going away present two weeks earlier when he traded Mike Oliphant straight up for Earnest Byner. The trade remains one of the most lopsided in NFL history.
At the time of the trade, Byner was a five year veteran who had career stats of over 30 TD's, 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 200 receptions. Oliphant had career stats of ZERO TD's, 140 yards from scrimmage and 15 receptions. Althoug Oliphant had just one year of NFL experience, he was only 8 months younger than Byner. On paper this trade already appears lopsided...and it was in reality as well. However, the Browns were quick to unload Byner after several playoff miscues including the famous play known forever as the "fumble". In 3 seasons with the Browns Oliphant would have more fumbles (3) than TD's (1). Oliphant gained just 119 yards in a Browns uniform and was out of football after the 1991 season...the season the Redskins won the Super Bowl with #21 Earnest Byner starting at RB. Honestly, this trade was so lopsided that Byner's blocking alone out-shined anything that Oliphant did on a football field. Byner was an all-around back who could block, catch and run the football.
Byner would play 5 seasons for the Redskins, earning 2 Pro Bowl trips and becoming one of the 80 Greatest Redskins. Byner would accumulate nearly 4,000 rushing yards and over 1500 receiving yards in the burgundy and gold. Byner also caught 185 balls and scored 29 TD's. Is this the greatest trade in Redskins history? That remains to be seen after our vote but there's no denying that Beathard absolutely fleeced the Cleveland Browns on draft day in 1989. Cheers and Hail
[Editor Note: Here's a Getty picture of Earnest Byner the Redskins coach instructing T.J. Duckett.]