Dennis Byrd has always been a symbol of inspiration for the Jets and their fans. He came to the Jets as a second-round pick out of Tulsa in 1989 and became a top sacker at DE and DT for four seasons, until he broke his neck and was paralyzed in a collision during the Jets’ game with the Chiefs at the Meadowlands in 1992.
After extensive physical therapy, Byrd arose and walked again. He went to midfield as an honorary captain for the opening coin toss on opening day in 1993, coauthored “Rise and Walk: The Trial and Triumph of Dennis Byrd,” and for a number of years has undertaken speaking engagements and shared his story.
He doesn’t frequently visit the Jets, but Saturday night and today he’s with his former team. Head coach Rex Ryan, a dedicated supporter of the traditions of the franchise, invited Byrd to Providence, R.I., where the Jets are staying before they head to Foxboro, Mass., to play the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round Game this afternoon. Byrd spoke to the team last night and he’ll be in attendance at today’s game.
For a little extra dose of encouragement, who better to speak with the Jets than the man for whom the team’s Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Award is named after.
Tags: Dennis Byrd, New England Patriots, Providence, Rex Ryan
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