Former Syracuse CB David Byrd Talks Hazing, Football Behavior to Fox Sports

The former Orangeman DB laid out a few instances where he was uncomfortable with behavior at SU.

Fox Sports

Syracuse fans may remember David Byrd, a corner and track star who played at SU in the late ’90s. He was a standout high school athlete in upstate New York, and went on to play briefly in the NFL with both the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. He spoke to about the many instances of bullying/hazing he’s seen in football over his years. This is his anecdote from his time on the Hill.

“August 1995: I earned an athletic scholarship to Syracuse University. Fellow freshmen and I were on campus for three fun-filled days of triple sessions that did not include upperclassmen.

During freshman camp, I noticed a mentally challenged young man who was a huge fan of the university and its athletics and wanted to be as up-close and personal to our college football world as possible.

Once the upperclassmen reported, the pranks in the dorms began eliminating any possibility of sleep or peace of mind for us freshmen. I expected that. What I found most interesting was the antagonistic behavior directed toward this young man.

I was told he had been around the football team for years and had always been teased by the players. I was also informed that the ribbing made him feel like one of the guys, despite how angry it made him in that moment.

Years later, a young man who was part of the incoming freshmen class was referred to as “field hand” because of his tall stature, dark skin and extreme muscular build – implying that he would have made one heck of a slave. During meals, I vividly remember eruptions of laughter from the guys at training table, gesturing as well as making more pointed jokes about his physical appearance.”

Byrd holds an interesting place in SU history. He was one of three players who were stabbed at the shady night spot Sadie’s Place. Byrd, Giovanni DeLoatch and Duke Pettijohn were all victims in the melee. Byrd was stabbed twice in the back, twice in the neck and once in the leg. He was originally in critical condition, but eventually recovered.

There was an emotional moment when he returned to the team. He was on the sidelines for the Temple game, in a warmup outfit. He was announced over the Dome PA, waved to the crowd and got a huge ovation. Byrd said afterward:

“It was overwhelming support. I can’t begin to imagine that if this didn’t happen I’d really know the full effect of how Syracuse kind of takes care of its own, how they really look after people.”

In the wake of the Miami mess, it’s good to see some of the dysfunctional inner workings of football culture get aired out. With so many stories bubbling to the surface, clearly there are plenty of former players who were uncomfortable or have now become uncomfortable with some of that behavior. I think we can all agree that treating a mentally-challenged kid with respect is of utmost importance. But in this case it sounds like maybe the athletes thought they were making him part of the fraternity by teasing him like everyone else. Clearly, the “field hand” comment is in poor taste. It’s a very sensitive subject. But it’s fair to figure there were a lot worse terms thrown around by teammates in any locker room. I think it’s respectable Byrd is helping add to the conversation. But these incidents seem pretty tame compared to what the Miami mess has turned into.

Posted: D.A.

8 Comments on this Post

  1. @D.A.

    You knew what happened down in Florida with the Fins was going to bring out all sorts of stories,didn’t you?

    My only comment,your not very much of a man if you stand by and watch someone else make fun of a mentally challanged individual. I don’t care who you are or what you thought might happen. Standing up for the little guy that can’t defend himself is what you should have done. I would have told the rest of the players to shut up and leave the kid alone and dealt with the repercussions later.

    The “field hand” comment mthat was made at the time,was it made by another black player on the team. I noticed he didn’t make a statement describing the individual who had made it.

    If he was so intimadated/uncomfortable by these events happening,did he say anything to any of the coaches at the time about either event ever happening?

    This all happened back in the 90’s,why has it taken so long for him to say anything about it and why instead of going to Fox News and reporting it,why didn’t he let the school know about it first?

  2. Really? David Byrd disappoints me. Not because of what he did, or didn’t do on the field (never really lived up to expectations) and not because of pulling back the curtain, but because these are donor hazing or bullying that its a blatant cry for attention. Was being stabbed hazing? Was not making fun of a handicapped person hazing? Look up the incident in New Orleans in ’98 and see if you can stomach listening to Ditka on the subject ever again. That was hazing and affected an SU player

  3. And by donor I mean neither

  4. Don’t sully your school for attention

  5. DA I know the subject is hot now, but the interest of this story is of little importance. More important stories would be why SU’s brand is always over looked nationally. Or why SU has REAL problems for YEARS not getting the best of NYSHSFB talent. Or why no shovel in the ground for the new facilities from the “real administration types” on the hill. Just to name a few!!

    I see that staff picks for the game average of 54 scored points for FSU from 5 writers. I think in the back of the players/coaches minds they feel the same as the writers, but still they both should focus on doing better than having 54 scored against them.

    Do not forget the kids at PSABUSERU!! The NCAA did!!

  6. @RelentlessOrange,as a former Marine its apparent you’ve seen the movie a few good men!I wonder if the coach called for a “Code Red”??

  7. I sold David Byrd a Isuzu Trooper he was a total thug

  8. This is sooo old. Why make it relevant today? Syracuse is an incredible school with a growing football program.

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