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Dennis Byrd Makes an Inspiring Visit to the Jets

Posted by Randy Lange on January 16, 2011 – 8:58 am

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.

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Posted in Randy Lange | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “Dennis Byrd Makes an Inspiring Visit to the Jets”

  1. By Gene on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    For those of us long suffering fans, there is no bigger inspiration than Dennis…I was at that game and saw the tragic hit first hand…..the emotion when he walked was like none other…..Go Jets

  2. By charliejet on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Puts everything in perspective doesn’t it? Dennis you are indeed a hero and an inspiration. God bless you.

  3. By wayne on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Time to put up………………….

  4. By GaryC on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Dennis Byrd knew how to play the game and he might have been out of a lot of players thoughts but the fans knew he gave 100 percent all the time and I know if he was playing today you wouldn’t have to worry about effort.to the tulsa hurricane, we don’t forget you.

  5. By russ on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Dennis Byrd more than an inspiration a truly great human being……… Welcom e Back Dennis…Win or or lose you are the winner…..

  6. By frank on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply


  7. By DavidC on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    I was at that game. I remember the somber atmosphere in the stadium and the devastating feeling. I also remember the inspired performance the following week in Buffalo to upset the Bills. Finally I remember Dennis throwing out the first pitch at Shea Stadium just months later.

  8. By scjoe on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Play hard, play fair, play with inspiration, play for 60 minutes, play like a JET!!!!! There will not be much support in the stands, but there are millions out there who support you guys till the end! Go Jets!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. By Walt on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Can anyone tell me what has happened to JC after a truely tremendous playoff series last year I was expecting big things from him this year.To describe his season this year as a dissapointment would be understatement.So what has happened to the Jets former go to guy.

  10. By 37 year fan on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    God is a Jets Fan …..

  11. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Dennis Byrd is the man, hands down. And speaking of injuries, I’m still upset that Smith can’t play today, to have had that kind of yr and then be out of the big one is awful. He must be really hurt, given the kind of competitor he is. BUT we might get him back for next week, that’s the only way to look at it. I’m also a little puzzled at why both Mulligan and Cumberland are inactive today given that we seem ready to run the ball a lot, but I’ve wondered about Rex and Schotty’s moves before and watched us pull out a victory, so…

  12. By john on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    got a little chokedup when I saw them carry his jersey onto the field.

  13. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply


  14. By Westcoast GangGreen on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jet Nation WOW..!! I wouldv’e given anything to be in that room and to hear his motivation speech….Bless you D. Byrd..!!!!

  15. By 37 year fan on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    The Evil Empire Is DEAD …..We had champaigne …SO Proud …Never lost the FAITH …all these years ….BEAT PITT,…And Win The Superbowl …..

  16. By Purpleflash on Jan 17, 2011 | Reply

    Randy, any chance of posting the text of Dennis Byrd’s speech to the team? We are proud of you Dennis…and We are proud of you Jets!

  17. By Randy Lange on Jan 17, 2011 | Reply

    Purpleflash, Dennis Byrd’s message to the team on Saturday night is not available to us, but a transcript of Byrd’s remarks to reporters about the speech before Sunday’s game has been live on the site since about 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

  18. By Jets Jets Jets!!! on Jan 17, 2011 | Reply

    Got to admit I too got a little choked up when I heard about this and saw Dennis’s jersey carried onto the field!!! He does deserve the game ball!!!! They should bring him out for the coin toss at the AFC Championship Game!!!! Dennis is an inspiration to all People not just the denizens of the NFL!!!!!…….☮…..JETSJETSJETS!!!

  19. By dean schwoegler on Jan 17, 2011 | Reply

    Dennis Byrd is a really nice guy, I see him at high school basketball games, because our children both attend the same school. He is truly friendly and a joy to talk to. I want all the Jet fans to know that knowing Dennis is a joy, and you d never know he is a superstar.

    He is a real humble christian man.

  20. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 17, 2011 | Reply

    That’s great to hear, Dean! When you see Dennis again, please thank him for us and tell him not to be a stranger for so long next time! And that I’m sure everybody who posts on this site would sign a petition to retire his number.

  21. By Tadd Schwab on Jan 18, 2011 | Reply

    I to remember being at the game when Dennis was injured and again when he returned. He was a very good player who had his career cut short. It was very upsetting to all when he was laying on the field. Oddly enough I was in the end zone upper deck with my 10 year old daughter and it has had an impression on her. Its really great to see Dennis visit the current Jets to hopefully get them thinking about how lucky they are and how it can end quickly.

  22. By GD Del Gatto on Jan 18, 2011 | Reply

    I will never use the expression, ‘Long-Suffering fan’ as long as Dennis Byrd reminds me of what true suffering is. That man should forever embody what every Jet should represent. Ironically, so many fans did not appreciate Dennis Byrd and his football talents until after his accident, but those of us who watched him perform each week knew of his ability. It was NO surprise to me when he began to heal in miraculous ways.
    Mr. Byrd, thank you for being such an inspiration to so many. Whether my Jets win or lose, this season has been a pleasure to enjoy. You make being a Jet fan a real honor and privilege. I hope Jet players of the future will wear the ‘Green’ with the same love and respect you have embodied.
    J-E-T-S….JETS JETS JETS!!!!!

  23. By By Jet Fan Since 1964 Frank on Jun 11, 2012 | Reply

    Dennis, thank you for four great years….

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