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Former Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd dies in car crash

Former Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd, best known for suffering a serious spinal injury and fighting his way back to be able to walk again, has died in a car crash. He was 50.

Byrd was traveling down state Route 88 in Oklahoma north of Claremore on Saturday when he was involved in a two-car collision that claimed his life and sent two others to the hospital in critical condition, according to the Tulsa World. A 17-year-old driver veered into the oncoming lane, striking the vehicle driven by Byrd, who was pronounced dead at the scene due to massive injuries.

"We are all devastated by the untimely loss of Dennis Byrd," Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a statement. "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. His impact on the New York Jets and the many lives he touched will never be forgotten."

Byrd suffered a fractured vertebra in a collision with teammate Scott Mersereau during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 29, 1992. He created his place in history when he walked again within weeks after a doctor's prognosis said otherwise.

Byrd walked to midfield as an honorary captain for the home opener during the following season in 1993, and the Jets retired Byrd's No. 90 jersey in 2012. Byrd spent four seasons with the Jets from 1989-1992, and was also a four-year starter at Tulsa from 1984-1988.

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