Life can be extremely cruel.
Former Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd who was best known for walking tall after suffering a career ending neck injury way back in 1992 passed away on Saturday when he was killed in a car crash on Saturday, October 15. He just turned 50 years old 11 days ago.
Bryd was pronounced dead on the scene according to reports. His Hummer H2 was struck head on by a car that was veering on Highway 88 northbound in Oklahoma. The other driver was a 17-year old, who had a 12-year old passenger in the car. Both children are in critical condition.
This is truly a sad day in Jets land, and in football in general. Byrd defied the odds. Late in the 1992 season in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Byrd collided headfirst with a fellow defensive lineman on an attempted sack of the quarterback. He suffered extensive damage to his neck and spinal cord and doctors had doubts he would ever walk again. He proved the doctors wrong. Within months he was walking again, and would live a fairly normal life for the rest of his life.
In time he became an ambassador to the Jets. During the team's 2010 playoff run to the AFC Championship Game, Byrd was an honorary guest and captain during the Jets playoff game against the Patriots. He gave a motivational speech to the team the night before the game, and New York would go on to beat their AFC East tormentors 28-21 to advance to the title game.
His loss is great, but his inspirational story will live on forever.