Dennis Byrd, whose NFL career was cut short by a serious spinal cord injury as a member of the New York Jets, died in a car accident in Oklahoma on Saturday. He was 50.
Byrd was pronounced dead at the scene of the two-car accident near Claremore, Okla. The collision was caused when a Ford Explorer driven by a 17-year-old veered into the oncoming lane where the SUV struck a Hummer H2 driven by Byrd, The Tulsa World reported.
The Jets drafted Byrd, a defensive lineman out of the University of Tulsa, in the second round of the 1989 NFL draft. He broke his neck on Nov. 29, 1992, after his head slammed into a teammate’s chest as they converged on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback David Krieg.
The collision left Byrd partially paralyzed, but he was able to regain the ability to walk after months of rehab. He walked on the field as an honorary captain at the start of the next season and his No. 90 jersey was retired by the Jets in 2012.
October 16, 2016
Dennis Byrd, former Jets defensive lineman and inspiration, passed away today at age 50.#RIPDennisByrd
Statement from Tulsa athletic director Derrick Gragg on the death of former football player Dennis Byrd: pic.twitter.com/0JVY4tM2ON— Kelly Hines (@KellyHinesTW) October 16, 2016