Jets retire former DE Dennis Byrd's No. 90


Jets retire former DE Dennis Byrd's No. 90

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Fighting back tears and surrounded by some of his former teammates, Dennis Byrd walked to the middle of the MetLife Stadium field as his No. 90 jersey was retired by the New York Jets.

Byrd, briefly paralyzed 20 years ago in a game against Kansas City, became the fifth former Jets player to receive the honor Sunday - joining Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Joe Klecko and Curtis Martin.

``What an amazing honor,'' Byrd told the fans, nearly all of them standing. ``Thank you so much.''

Before the game, Byrd was introduced as the final member of New York's defense, walking out of the tunnel as his name was announced and greeted by the entire team in the end zone. A fired-up Byrd could be seen on the stadium video board addressing the players who were huddled around him.

He stood on the sideline during the national anthem and walked arm-in-arm with center Nick Mangold to midfield as the honorary captain for the coin toss.

Byrd was injured Nov. 29, 1992, when he broke his neck after slamming headfirst into the chest of teammate Scott Mersereau against Kansas City when quarterback David Krieg stepped forward to avoid a sack. After a vigorous rehabilitation, Byrd returned to the Meadowlands for the opener the following season and walked to midfield as an honorary captain.

Mersereau was among the former teammates to join Byrd at halftime, as well as Freeman McNeil, Bill Pickel and Marty Lyons. Mersereau introduced Byrd to the crowd, saying the most touching moment of his life came when he visited Byrd in the hospital and his teammate - unable to walk - told him ``Angie and I have been worried about you.''

With his wife and their four children watching from a few feet away, Byrd - wearing a green No. 90 jersey - told the fans about how much his teammates meant to him and how they and his family have helped him recover. He still walks gingerly and recently said he still has some frustrating days, but is getting better every day.

``I learned to be a man in Oklahoma,'' Byrd said, ``and I grew to be a man in New York.''


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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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