New York Jets coach Rex Ryan usually gives his team a go-get-'em speech the night before a game, and anyone who saw HBO's "Hard Knocks" knows the man knows how to motivate. But in advance of Sunday's playoff tilt with the New England Patriots, Ryan gave the room to an inspirational Jets legend.
Dennis Byrd, a defensive lineman whose career ended in 1992 when he broke his neck in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, spoke to the current Jets team on Saturday night. Byrd was able to walk on crutches mere months after the injury and to a rousing ovation walked onto the Meadowlands field in 1993 for a coin toss. In more recent years, he's traveled the country as a motivational speaker, sharing his story of overcoming paralysis.
I just heard the most inspirational message of my life from former jet Dennis Byrd, who suffered a career ending neck injury.
As God is my witness I have never been more ready to perform in my life. Dennis Byrd I respect, salute, and honor you
Byrd spoke about always wanting to play in a game of this magnitude, and he will attend the Patriots game today. The Jets are prohibitive underdogs, and they should be, but you never know what role emotion can play in a game until everyone hits the field.
- Dennis Byrd