Jets mourn the loss of the legendary Dennis Byrd
By Jason Rodriguez
The New York Jets mourn the loss of Dennis Byrd who passed away in a two-car collision in his hometown of Oklahoma.
As the New York Jets are preparing for their Monday night matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, they received horrific news. 50-year-old Dennis Byrd passed away from a two-car collision in his hometown of Oklahoma. He has overcome so much adversity throughout his life that it’s a tragedy it came down to this.
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Byrd never gave up on the road blocks that was put in front him. He always fought through and accomplished any goal he set for himself. In his young four-year career in the NFL, Byrd suffered a horrific on-field injury that ended his professional career in 1992.
He was a big defensive lineman that weighed in at 270 pounds and was 6 feet 5 inches. He was paralyzed and was told he would never walk again in his life. He didn’t let that obstacle stop him from wanting to walk again.
In less than a year, he learned how to walk again after that devastating play that occurred. Many fans and players thought that was beyond inspiring. He never gave up on his life for beating the issues he had. He always pushed forward and just kept pushing. That was the true essence of the organization he proudly played for.
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Byrd was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft. The organization was hoping he would be the prodigy in training to replace Mark Gastineau.
He switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 one with hopes of being a difference maker. He played both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Jets.
Byrd returned back from being paralyzed to walk out to midfield as an honorary captain for a coin toss. He overcame what the doctors and naysayers said to prove them all wrong.
It was so inspirational that Jets former president Steve Gutman presented Byrd with their Inspirational Award, then it was changed to his name and honor for incredible achievements.
After the accident to Byrd, the Jets never reissued the #90 jersey to anyone. The Jets formally retired it in a half-time ceremony in 2012. In the 2010-2011 season in a playoff game, the Jets were preparing for the New England Patriots.
Byrd actually sent former head coach Rex Ryan the cut up jersey. It was cut from his body the day of his injury and he also wrote an inspirational letter addressed to the team. The team invited Byrd to come out and personally address them prior to this huge game. The Jets were so inspired that they came out with the jersey to the coin toss and beat the Patriots, 28-21.
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Overall, Byrd will always be remembered as a huge inspiration to many people for what he has been through. Being able to walk again after doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to truly defines the word adversity. Byrd never complained and never wanted people to feel sorry for him. He kept positive and just kept believing he will be able to fight and walk again. Byrd will forever be remembered and have a special place in Jets Nation.