Jets call on Byrd for pre-game message

As is the tradition with the New York Jets, head coaches like to bring in guests to speak to the team before big games. Last night, the Jets got a special one.

From the NY Post:

Former Jets defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, whose career was cut short by a neck injury that briefly left him paralyzed in 1992, stepped before the Jets players and delivered a powerful speech to the team on the eve of their colossal playoff showdown against the Patriots.

Jets receiver Braylon Edwards was so stoked by Byrd’s appearance he posted two messages to his Twitter account.

The first read: “I just heard the most inspirational message of my life from former jet Dennis Byrd, who suffered a career ending neck injury.”

The second one read: “As God is my witness I have never been more ready to perform in my life. Dennis Byrd I respect, salute, and honor you.”

The element of Byrd’s speech that touched the players most came when he told them he would trade everything for one more chance to play in a game like the one they’re about the play today in Foxborough.

Byrd, a second-round draft pick in 1989, had his promising career tragically halted on Nov. 29, 1992, when he collided with teammate Scott Mersereau as the two converged on Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg.

The head-on collision resulted in a broken C-5 vertebra that left Byrd paralyzed. After extensive physical therapy, Byrd would walk again, but he never was able to play again.

Byrd returned to Giants Stadium for the Jets’ home opener on Sept. 5, 1993, walking to midfield as an honorary captain for the coin toss. No Jet has worn No. 90 since Byrd’s career-ending injury, though it has not been formally retired.

Byrd, who lives in Tulsa with his wife Angela and their four children, stayed at the team hotel last night and will attend today’s game.

His surprise visit to the team meeting room capped what has been a highly emotional week of hype leading into this game.

Article courtesy of: MARK CANNIZZARO

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