Remembering Dennis Byrd

"I really have loved coaching football and working with kids, talking about the lessons I've learned as an athlete and the journey as someone with a disability" ~Dennis Byrd

Only days after his 50th birthday, former Jets defensive end and defensive tackle, Dennis Byrd died tragically in a head on collision near his Oklahoma home this past weekend.  He was best known of the day his career came to an end when he collided with teammate Scott Mersereau while trying to sack the Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg.  His head first collision caused Byrd to suffer a fractured C-5 vertebra and sustained damage to his spinal cord paralyzing him.  At the time, doctors didn't think Byrd would ever be able to walk again. 

Months later, after extensive physical therapy, Byrd was able to walk again, but never returned to football.  His jersey was retired and no one has worn the number 90 since. On September 3rd, 1993 he walked to midfield at the Meadowlands to serve as an honorary captain and during the halftime ceremony was presented with a trophy for the Most Inspirational Player Award which is now known as the Dennis Byrd Award.  His story was later coauthored in an autobiography entitled, "Rise and Walk: The Trial and Triumph of Dennis Byrd" and later made into a movie. He went across the country sharing his story and now, others will tell the story for him so his legacy lives on.

You never know when tragedy could happen to you or a loved one.  In the case of Byrd, he was emerging as one of the top defensive lineman in the NFL, seconds later he had a disability.  This is very similar to the lives of so many people we help at NTI.  A disability interrupts their lives, but if they want to get back on track and back to work again, NTI can help.  If you know of someone on disability who would live to get back to work, contact us at   

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