Jets to honor Dennis Byrd, killed last weekend in car crash
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets will honor the late Dennis Byrd in a pregame ceremony Sunday after he was killed last weekend in a car accident in Oklahoma.
Byrd was an inspiration to many after he overcame brief paralysis and walked again just a few months after injuring his neck during a play in 1992. The defensive lineman, who played for the Jets for four seasons, died in a two-vehicle collision on Oklahoma 88 north of Claremore last Saturday. He was 50.
The Jets will show a video tribute after player introductions Sunday at MetLife Stadium before the game against Baltimore.
A moment of silence will be held before the national anthem, and members of Byrd's immediate family will serve as honorary captains for the game.
Byrd's former teammates and close friends Scott Mersereau, Paul Frase and Marvin Washington will join the family at midfield for the coin toss. The Jets will also wear decals featuring Byrd's retired No. 90 on their helmets, as they did last week during their game at Arizona.
''We are all devastated by the untimely loss of Dennis Byrd,'' owner Woody Johnson said after receiving news of Byrd's death.
''Soft-spoken and strong-willed, the inspiration he provided to all not only by his play on the field, but from the way he overcame life's obstacles was remarkable by any measure. His impact on the New York Jets and the many lives he touched will never be forgotten.''
On Nov. 29, 1992, against Kansas City, Byrd broke his neck after slamming headfirst into the chest of Mersereau as Chiefs quarterback David Krieg stepped forward to avoid a sack. The impact broke the C-5 vertebra in Byrd's neck, leaving him paralyzed, and doctors were uncertain if Byrd would ever be able to walk again.
Byrd underwent intense rehabilitation and returned to the Meadowlands for the Jets' opening game the following season and walked - gingerly but unaided - to midfield as an honorary captain. His No. 90 was retired by the Jets in 2012, and players vote every season for a teammate to receive the Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Player award.
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