EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A tearful Dennis Byrd saluted former teammates and thanked the crowd during an emotional halftime ceremony Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets honored Byrd by retiring his No. 90 jersey, 20 years after he suffered a career-ending neck injury. Byrd, wearing his old Jets uniform, choked up during a brief speech to the crowd.
"I learned to be a man in Oklahoma," Byrd said. "I grew to be a man in New York."
Byrd was reunited with former teammate Scott Mersereau, with whom he collided on that fateful day, Nov. 29, 1992. Byrd and Mersereau lost touch and hadn't seen each other in 18 years. They talked before the game in Byrd's private suite and Mersereau introduced Byrd at the ceremony, a touching moment.
Mersereau, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., shared the story of the first time he visited Byrd in the hospital. He related how nervous he was upon walking into the room, but how Byrd eased the moment by telling him how he was worried about him.
"Dennis was worried about me," Mersereau said. "That was the most powerful experience of my life. Today, it's my great honor to introduce someone who has been an inspiration to us all."
Former teammates Marty Lyons, Bill Pickel and Freeman McNeil participated in the ceremony.
Byrd made a surprise appearance for the pregame introductions. He was introduced as "the 12th man," coming out of the tunnel after the defense was announced to the crowd. The team greeted Byrd and he delivered a fiery pep talk on the field.
It didn't do much good, as the Jets trailed at halftime, 20-0.