With all of the trash talking last week between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins, and with the circus surrounding the Jets one thing happened Sunday that was a great sight to see. The Jets retired the number 90 prior to their game with the Dolphins. That number was worn by defensive lineman Dennis Byrd. Byrd, 20 years ago, suffered a broken vertebrae in his neck while trying to make a tackle. However he collided with teammate Scott Mersereau and Byrd landed head first on the ground. The stadium was silent and players were stunned. Byrd was paralyzed and its the worst thing you fear as a football player is an injury like that with football being such a violent physical sports as it is.
Byrd never let this injury get him down though. He used it as road block in his life and he was determined to talk again and not let this injury get him down. Byrd spent months of rehab trying to work on getting muscle coordination and strength to walk again. Then one day in the winter of 1993, Byrd started to walk slowly and he continued to rehab his way back. On opening day 1993, Byrd led the Jets out as a team captain and walked the team out of the locker room. Byrd has his struggles from time to time, but its his courage and determination that help get him through this. It was a classy move by the Jets to retire his number. It was also great to see him give the team a pep talk and try to motivate them to an inspiring performance.
With all the drama leading up to Sundays game, this went under the radar and football is just a game. The scene of Byrd having his jersey retired and giving the Jets a motivating pep talk was something that touched us all.