Dennis Byrd, the former New York Jets lineman who defied predictions and walked again after suffering a broken neck in a 1992 NFL game, died in a road accident in Oklahoma, U.S. media reported. Byrd, 50, was involved in a two-vehicle collision on Saturday that "sent two others to the hospital in critical condition," the Tulsa World reported, saying he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dennis exemplified true determination, tremendous heart and humility throughout his life.Dr. Derrick Gragg, Tulsa's athletic director
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Byrd was a second-round draft pick of the Jets in 1989 and quickly became a fan favorite for his intensity on the field as much as his humble, soft-spoken approach off it. He was considered one of the NFL's promising young defensive ends during his first three seasons, racking up 27 sacks — a mark that only two players in franchise history surpassed. After his official retirement in 1993, Byrd became a motivational speaker and later a television commentator before moving back to his native Oklahoma.