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Jets inspired by Byrd speech

 Jets head coach Rex Ryan ordinarily addresses his team the night before a game, but he made a change in advance of today's AFC divisional playoff game against the Patriots. He had former Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd, who suffered a paralyzing neck injury in a Nov. 29, 1992 game against the Chiefs at the Meadowlands, talk to the players.

"I just heard the most inspirational message of my life from former Jet Dennis Byrd, who suffered a career ending neck injury," wide receiver Braylon Edwards wrote on his twitter account. "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 was injured when he collided with Jets' teammate Scott Mersereau while the two were attempting to sack Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg. After Krieg stepped up to the avoid the tackle, Byrd ducked his head and hit Mersereau in the chest. 

Byrd wound up suffered a broken C-5 vertebra and was unable to walk for many months. Through intense physical rehabilitation, he eventually walked again. On Sept. 5, 1993, he served as an honorary captain for the Jets' home opener and walked to midfield, receiving a standing ovation. During a halftime ceremony, Byrd was given a trophy for the Most Inspirational Player Award, which was subsequently renamed the Dennis Byrd Award.

New York Sports