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Jairus Byrd, Panthers have special connections

By Jerry Sullivan

When two NFL teams meet, there are always connections. It's common for teams to list them in their weekly press notes. For example, Bills special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was a special-teams coach for the Panthers
from 2003-09. Bruce DeHaven, who had two terms as the Bills' special-teams coach, is now the assistant special teams coach for Carolina.

But there's another, more obscure, special-teams link between the Bills and Panthers. Richard Rodgers, the Panthers' special teams coordinator, is the uncle of Bills' Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd. His mother, Marilyn Byrd, is Rodgers' sister.

Like DeHaven, who will be forever remembered for the Music City Miracle, Rodgers had a part in one of the most famous special teams plays in football history. As California's special teams captain in 1982, Rodgers called The Play -- the five-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown that beat a John Elway-led Stanford team.

That was the play during which the Stanford band marched prematurely onto the field, believing that play was dead. Rodgers handled the ball on the second and fourth laterals on that bizarre play.

"Since then, I've been able to call on The Play as a tool of learning for players that I coach," Rodgers said in the weekly press notes. "Never give up, never quit, you never know when you're going to make history."

If Rodgers needs reinforcement, he can always have DeHaven chime in on Home Run Throwback.


Jairus Byrd
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |