As week 7 of the National Football League rolls in Thursday night, there are many story lines reverberating around the league in which they play, for pay (thank you Mike Francesa).
Most pressing, or distressing, are the NFL’s ratings, which are down 11% for the first six weeks of the season as opposed to the same time frame last year. In New York, there is the ongoing nonsense swirling around Odell Beckham Jr., and the Cowboys are suddenly red-hot again. However, this past Saturday in Oklahoma, former New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd died in an automobile accident, and in my world, that story trumps all other.
Prior to Sunday, November 29, 1992, I had nothing in common with the 6 foot 5 inch, 270 pound Byrd. But that changed with one pass rush made against the Kansas City Chiefs that afternoon. The play stands out to me because I watched it from my bed at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey. I had been an in-patient there for a couple of weeks, still trying to come to grips with just what the heck had happened to my life following my fall and subsequent spinal cord injury on August 19, 1992. Word spread rather quickly through the West Wing of the building as Byrd remained motionless on the field after his high speed, head-first collision with teammate, Scott Mersereau, in the KC backfield.
I remember fellow patients wheeling into my room asking: “did you see that hit”, and, “uh-oh, I haven’t seen him give a thumbs up or move his legs yet”. Byrd had suffered a significant spinal cord injury (SCI) at the C-5 level. He was suddenly in the same boat as my fellow patients and me. Overnight, he pretty much became the face of SCI’s, which thrust him into the national spotlight at such a vulnerable time. Yet remarkably, he faced it with amazing grace and unwavering determination. I cannot imagine having to go through everything I did in those first few months, with a television camera in my face. Often times, Dennis Byrd did, and he soared like a bird I must say. Initially, many thought he would never walk again, but he did just that, up to a podium on February 13, 1993 when he was discharged from Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Photo: The Inquisitr
As I learned the hard way, no two SCI’s are the same, and recoveries differ greatly even for those in similar situations. Byrd’s injury proved to all of us that regardless of size, resources, access to the best and brightest medical minds, drugs, and technologies, once your spinal cord is inured, nothing will ever be the same. In researching Byrd further for this, I found a great article from Bob Glauber in Newsday, from
For Byrd to have been killed in a head-on collision is as ironic as it is tragic. His vehicle was struck head-on by a 17 year-old driving a Ford Explorer in the opposite direction when it veered into oncoming traffic. The old saying about bad things happening to good people applies here, a couple of times over. So while some may fret over television ratings, or what to get OBJ and his significant other for their nuptials, I choose to remember the great Dennis Byrd. I only wish I had the chance to thank him for being an inspiration to me and many others like us.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.