Jets and Thanksgiving share common bond
By Justin Schmick
The New York Jets may not be having a great season, but do share a common bond with Thanksgiving that goes way beyond football.
The New York Jets have been disappointing, to say the least. With only three wins over the first 10 weeks of the NFL season, the likelihood of a playoff appearance seems pretty grim. The NFL Week 11 schedule does not include the Jets, who are on their bye week.
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With all that the NFL seems to have done wrong in 2016, scheduling the Jets bye week leading into the Thanksgiving holiday couldn’t have been more perfect. The Thanksgiving bird and the Jets Byrd, both hold special meaning towards not only Jets fans but for people in all walks of life.
The bird has become the ultimate symbol of a traditional Thanksgiving holiday. Historians have numerous theories about how the bird became the symbolic dinner of Thanksgiving, but there are no documented facts about the origin nor link between the bird and holiday. With this being the case, this means the bird can mean something different to everybody without anybody being wrong. The Thanksgiving bird inspires us to remember to be thankful for what we have. It’s important to realize that as bad as life can seem to be at a time, life truly is wonderful.
Now the Jets version of Byrd is spelled differently but has much of the same meaning as the Thanksgiving bird. Wearing uniform number 90, Dennis Byrd, who played defensive end for the Jets from 1989-1992 had his career short from a terrible collision with then-teammate Scott Mersereau.
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When both were trying to sack Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg during their November 29th, 1992 meeting, it happened. The collision broke his fifth cervical vertebrae and left him unable to walk. For most people, this injury would have left them paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of their lives, but through hard work and determination, Byrd was able to regain the ability to walk again making him a true inspiration. Number 90 was never reissued to any other play since the accident and was retired on October 28th, 2012.
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Unfortunately, the Jets and their fans lost Byrd on October 15th, 2016 to an automobile accident. Byrd was 50 years old. He certainly will not be forgotten. It’s always good to remember that there is a lot to be thankful for. In the snap of our fingers, life can always change for the worse. Let’s remember that both the Thanksgiving bird (better known as the turkey), and Dennis Byrd are both reminders that we all have lots to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody.