BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Earnest Byner was on the first Ravens team, and was the first to be inducted into the team’s ‘Ring of Honor’ at the stadium.
He’s now giving back by visiting veterans at a time when they need help.
When you’re at the hospital, you’ve got time to think about where you’re going and where you’ve been.
“From Fort Hood, Texas, to Vietnam,” said veteran Marshall Lucas.
Lucas just had major surgery, and turned 70 on Monday, the perfect day for an original Raven to be making the rounds.
Byner spent 14 years playing in the NFL, two years with the Ravens as a player, then five as a coach.
He now plays to audiences of one.
“As challenges rise and the issues get deeper, the healing dogs remind us to be our brother’s keeper,” Byner reads off to Lucas.
‘The Healing Dawgs’ is the name of his foundation, and of the stuffed dog he leaves behind.
The dog is a reference to his time playing in Cleveland.
[Reporter: For all the good things you did in football, there is one instance that people remember you for that wasn’t perhaps your finest moment, and that is a bridge for you with some folks to be able to talk about healing] “No question. No question, because each experience that we go through, to me, is to teach us something. And we are to learn something, whether it’s winning the Super Bowl, or whether it’s fumbling the ball on the 2-yard line in Denver. It’s all part of the story,” Byner said. “One of the things that we go out and teach is that you can fail, you can fall down, but that doesn’t make you a failure.”
Byner has made more than 150 of these visits. All part of his spiritual journey and healing.
Recently, Byner was nominated to the NFL Hall of Fame. He joins 107 other players, including former Ravens Ray Lewis and center Matt Birk. That list will be narrowed down to 15 early next year.