Thanks to today’s NFL media climate, in which Twitter beef can generate more attention than an All-Pro selection, Kevin Byard made as much of a name for himself online as he did on the field.
In his second pro season and his first as a full-time starter, Byard established himself as one of the best safeties in the league while being chosen as a Pro Bowler and first team All-Pro. He helped the Tennessee Titans make it to the playoffs and advance to the AFC divisional round, where they would lose to the New England Patriots.
Byard’s efforts were good enough to get him voted into the No. 80 slot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking for 2018, a list that is determined by NFL players.
But Byard is a defensive back who plays for a team that isn’t a perennially popular brand. So for casual fans, Byard may not have surfaced on their radar until well after the season when he got into a brief Twitter spat with Deion Sanders.
It started when Sanders tweeted that his protege, Tyrann Mathieu, is the best safety in the NFL. Kevin Byard personally responded to “Prime Time” that he felt perhaps Kevin Byard deserved consideration for that label, to which Sanders — obviously unaware who he was talking to — brushed Byard off as a “fan.”
The back-and-forth between the living legend and the current standout of course made more headlines than anything Byard actually did on the field for the Titans.
Which was a lot.
Last season, Byard recorded 87 tackles, eight interceptions, 16 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. He was the first NFL player to get at least 80 tackles and eight picks since Champ Bailey in 2006. Byard also tied for the league lead in interceptions with Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay.
Sanders presumable knows Kevin Byard’s name now, and more fans should learn it as he keeps adding accolades like this to his resume.