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Former New York Jets player Dennis Byrd speaks during a halftime ceremony to retire his number during the second half of an NFL football game between the Jets and the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Former New York Jets defensive lineman, Dennis Byrd, died in a car wreck


Dennis Byrd, a former defensive lineman for the New York Jets, was killed in a wreck Saturday outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

The 50-year-old played in the NFL for four years before a paralyzing on-field injury ended his professional football career in 1992, according to CNN

Byrd was best remembered for learning to walk again less than a year after the accident that ended his career. 

"We are all devastated by the untimely loss of Dennis Byrd," New York 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."

The crash that killed Byrd happened Saturday morning on State Highway 88, outside of Claremore, Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol.

As he was traveling northbound along the highway at approximately 11 a.m., a Ford Explorer traveling the opposite direction veered into  Byrd's lane, colliding head-on with his Hummer H2. 

According to CNN, Byrd was declared dead at the scene due to "massive injuries." 

The 17-year-old driving the Ford Explorer was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. He sustained injuries to his head, trunk, arm and leg but was in stable condition upon arrival. A 12-year-old passenger in the ford Explorer sustained similar injuries. 

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. 

As news spread of Byrd's death, NFL players and league executives expressed their condolences on social media. 

Former New York Jets lineman Kevin Mawae described Byrd as "an inspiration to many." 

According to the Jets organization, Byrd is survived by his wife, Angela, and his four children.

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