Football fans are in mourning following the news that former New York Jets player Dennis Byrd died in a car accident Saturday. He was 50 years old.
Though Byrd only played for four years in the NFL, he was considered an inspiration to both teammates and fans after learning how to walk only a year after suffering a paralyzing injury that ended his career back in 1992.
“We are all devastated by the untimely loss of Dennis Byrd,” New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a statement Saturday. “Soft-spoken and strong-willed, the inspiration he provided to all not only by his play on the field but from the way he overcame life’s obstacles was remarkable by any measure.”
Byrd’s fatal accident occurred around noon on Saturday, when a Ford Explorer veered into oncoming traffic and struck Byrd’s Hummer H2. He was pronounced dead of “massive injuries” at the crash site. The driver of the Explorer and a 12-year-old passenger suffered several injuries but were admitted to the hospital in stable condition.
Following the untimely end of his career, Byrd, whose jersey was retired in 2012, returned to his home state of Oklahoma, where he worked as a minister and a public speaker.
The accident occurred only 10 days after Byrd celebrated his 50th birthday. He his survived by his wife and four children.