The Loss of Former New York Jets Dennis Byrd

Credits: NY Jets Photo

There can be nothing as painful as the phone call the family of Dennis Byrd received on Saturday morning. A great man cut down in the very prime of his life. A great man who overcame a life-threatening injury so many years ago. An inspiration to family, friends and New York Jets fans.

Dennis Byrd. #90. I'm almost at a loss for words but I will try to express the tremendous awe and respect I have for who he was.

Dennis Byrd was raised in Oklahoma and played football at the University of Tulsa. The New York Jets selected DE Dennis Byrd in the 2nd round of the 1989 NFL draft, the 42nd overall pick. 1989 was an amazing draft year, with the number one pick of Troy Aikman, the number 3 pick of Barry Sanders and the number 5 pick of Deion Sanders. Dennis Byrd started his NFL career in a great year along with other amazing players.

Sign Up for E-News

In his four season of play with the New York Jets, he accumulated 28 sacks 1 safety and 1 kick return.

Then fate took a twisted turn on November 29, 1992, when Byrd suffered a fractured vertebrae in an awful collision with his own teammate Scott Mersereau. Byrd rushed in a play against Kansas City Chiefs QB Dave Krieg, ducked his head at the last moment, and collided with Mersereau's chest.

I was at that game. I remember the extremely somber feeling in the stadium as he was carted off the field. The emergency responders and doctors were instrumental in getting him off the field quickly and ultimately saved his life. The EMT's cut the jersey off his body; that jersey would later become a token of inspiration for the New York Jets when they needed it the most.

The prognosis for his recovery wasn't good. No one thought he would ever walk again. Dennis Byrd proved everyone wrong. He walked to midfield as an honorary captain for the coin toss at the home opener on September 5, 1993. During halftime he was presented with the Most Inspirational Player Award, which became the Dennis Byrd Award for the years to follow.

Read his co-authored autobiography and watch the made-for-television movie that follow his recovery; be motivated and be inspired. Dennis Byrd traveled around the country and shared his life story, spreading the story of his determination to overcome unbeatable odds.

He was instrumental in helping the New York Jets overcome unbeatable odds in the 2010-2011 AFC Divisional match against the Patriots. Dennis sent that cut up jersey he saved from 1992 along with a letter to Head Coach Rex Ryan right before the game. Rex Ryan was so moved he invited Dennis Byrd to speak directly to the team before the game. Against all odds, the New York Jets beat the Patriots 28-21.

The definition of inspiration is the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. This embodies Dennis Byrd.

I'm going to send Dennis Byrd's family a sympathy card. I'm not going to tweet, text or Facebook a "RIP Dennis Byrd".

He and his family deserve more than that for the lessons of strength he gave each and every one of us in his short but incredible life.

Please do the same.

Victoria L. Dammer, a native of Florham Park N.J., is a dedicated, active Jets fan and season ticket holder. She never misses a chance to cheer for Gang Green. Follow Victoria on Twitter @JetsFanChatter or email her at

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Hanover/Florham Park

Improvements Planned for Two Busy 90 Year Old Morris County Bridges, One in Florham Park

April 19, 2018

Morris County, in coordination with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority and New Jersey Department of Transportation, is conducting studies to determine improvements needed for the Columbia Turnpike Bridge in Florham Park and the Valley Road Bridge in Long Hill and Bernards Township, at the Morris and Somerset counties’ border.

Columbia Turnpike ...

New Law Bans Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in State Waters Off New Jersey’s Coast

April 21, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law a ban on offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling off the immediate coast of New Jersey.

The law, which drew nearly unanimous support from the New Jersey Legislature, counters the Trump administration’s plan to extend its offshore reach for oil and natural gas activities in ocean waters from Maine to ...

Surf City Hotel's Application Rejected By the Surf City Land Use Board for Outdoor Dining

SURF CITY - There has been a lot of positive change going on at the Surf City Hotel the last two years and especially this off season. New owner Greg Gewirtz, his wife Colleen and other family members have been working hard completing renovations to improve the hotel, bar, liquor store, restaurant and night club.

The owners were hoping those improvements would include approval to set ...

Travels Update - Long Beach Island Summer Shuttle No Longer A Free Ride

BRANT BEACH - The Long Beach Island Shuttle, an extremely popular service for visitors and residents of Long Beach Island, will have a fee for the first time beginning Memorial Day weekend. 

The Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners made the announcement at their meeting on Monday, April 9. 

Here is the overview on the fees:

One-way shuttle rides from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Baby Seal Waddles Its Way onto Belmar Beach

BELMAR, NJ — A baby seal waddled its way onto the Fifth Avenue beach earlier today to enjoy one of the warmest days of spring so far.

Around noon on April 12, photographer Nancy Orlowski took these snapshots, which have also been posted on the Belmar Facebook page where it states that the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has been notified.

This is the second known instance ...

Save This Travel Date - The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival - April 27 - 29

TAPintoTravels - Asbury Park, New Jersey will host their 4th annual Music and Film Festival on April 27 - 29.

What is better than hanging out in a beach town while listening to good music, watching great films, and all while supporting some great charities? Okay, maybe doing in mid-summer is a little better.  We imagined they tried, but what ...

Travels - Friends of Belmar Harbor: Seeking Junior Sailors and Campers for Summer Programs

BELMAR, NJ — Children can learn how to sail or discover the wonders of the Shark River during two programs to be held weekly this summer by Friends of the Belmar Harbor.

Registration now is open for FOBH’s Junior Sailing and Discovery Camp programs, which will be held from June 18 through August 30 as weekly offerings. Sign up by April 1 and receive a 15 percent discount on ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, April 25, 10:00 AM


Lucy's Gift features BJWLD Jewelry Designer from ...

Wed, April 25, 6:30 PM

South Mountain YMCA Civic House (in the Park), Maplewood

Lorraine Labonne-Storch

Business & Finance Health & Wellness Other


Thu, April 26, 6:00 PM

Florham Park

Ladies Night at Lucy's Gift with Special Guest ...

The Happy Hive Hallway Club Makes Over Hanover Park Hallways

April 22, 2018

EAST HANOVER, N.J.- The Hallways of Hanover Park High School  are alive with the creativity of the Happy Hive Hallways Club.  Ms. Kristina Rovtar, founder and advisor explains how the club came about, “I decided to start the Happy Hive Club in the 2015-2016 school year because I wanted to add some color and further beautify the hallways at HP. Our first ...


Beverly Jean (Charlton) Weimar, of Ship Bottom, and Florham Park, New Jersey passed away on March ...
Read more

Take A Chance on the Livingston Library To Conclude

April 20, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Friends of the Livingston Library’s annual “Take A Chance on the Library” Auction & Raffle will be ending Tuesday, April 24  when the public is invited to the Library’s Program Room as winners are announced, beginning at noon. The event invites all members of the community to “take a chance on the library” by ...