tied the club record at the time. He spent
seven seasons with the Eagles (1986-92)
and he ranks higher among the all-time
receivers (sixth, 371 catches) than the
all-time rushers (13, with 2,672 yards). He
had more 100-yard receiving games (6)
than rushing games (2).
“I’ve given up trying to explain my role,”
Byars said. “People ask what position I
play; I say ‘Offense.’”
In 1998, his final NFL season playing
for the New York Jets, Byars surpassed
Hall of Famer Marcus Allen to become
the all-time leading receiver among
running backs. He finished his career with
610 receptions (he still ranks fourth for
running backs) for 5,661 yards and 31
touchdowns. He had 3,109 yards rushing
with 23 touchdowns. Toss in his six passing
touchdowns − remember that left-handed
halfback option pass − and that’s 60
“Keith Byars knows how to play the
game,” said Bill Parcells, the Hall of Fame
coach. “When I was coaching the Giants
and he was playing for the Eagles, he gave
34 PHPIHLIALDAEDLEPLHPIHAI EAA EGALGELSE GSA GMAEMDAEDY AMYAGAZINE
us headaches because he always seemed
to make plays in big situations. There
would be a big third down and he’d take
a little flare pass, break a tackle, and pick
up the first down, stuff like that. Guys like
that win games for you.”
Parcells liked Byars enough that he
brought him to New England in 1996
(where he played in a Super Bowl) and
then brought him to the Jets in 1998.
“I learned over time that pro football
isn’t about labels,” Byars said. “The fans
and media wanted to define what I was.
Was I a running back like Earl Campbell?
Was I like Walter Payton? It was frustrating
for me because people looked at the
(rushing) numbers and said, ‘Where’s the
thousand yards?’ It was like I was this
“I talked to Buddy about it. I said, ‘Give
me the ball enough times, I’ll show them.’
But Buddy said, ‘Don’t worry about that.
We know what you can do. You’ll get your
opportunity.’ He was right. I learned never
to second-guess anything Buddy said. I
believed in him.”
Byars said the way he was utilized, playing
multiple roles, actually proved helpful.
“It made me a better player,” he said,
“because I had to learn the whole offense.
I know everyone’s role, not just one role.
When I run a pattern, I know my route plus
the route of every other receiver. I can
visualize the whole pattern in my mind.
I see the whole picture so I know how to
adjust. It all fits together.”
Byars was part of the exodus that
followed the 1992 season when many
veterans, including Reggie White, Seth
Joyner, and Clyde Simmons left the Eagles
unhappy with the club’s direction under
owner Norman Braman. Byars signed with
Miami joining ex-Eagles Keith Jackson,
Mike Golic, and Ron Heller. He played four
seasons as a Dolphin.
“It’s tough leaving, I love Philadelphia,”
Byars said, “but one thing I learne d in my
seven years here and I learned it from
Mr. Braman himself is this is a business.
He does what he thinks is best for the
football team so I’m doing what’s best