CLAREMORE, Okla. — Dennis Byrd the former Jet’s defensive end whose career was cut short due to a neck injury, was killed Saturday morning in a two-vehicle collision. He was 50.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the crash happened just after 11 a.m. between Oologah and Claremore in Rogers County. A 17-year-old driving a 2000 Ford Explorer northbound on Oklahoma Highway 88 veered into the oncoming lane, striking the 2004 Hummer H2 that Byrd was driving. He was pronounced dead at the scene due to massive injuries. The 17-year-old youth was taken to a hospital for minor injuries as well as a 12-year-old passenger.
Byrd played in the NFL four years until a devastating neck injury during a game in 1992 left him paralyzed from the neck down. Despite many of the doctors’ grim outlook on his paralysis, Byrd defied the odds and walked less than a year after breaking a bone in his neck.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Byrd was a star football player at Mustang High School. He then attended the University of Tulsa until he was selected in the second-round draft in 1989 by the Jets.
He is survived by his wife, Angela, and his four children.