NFC South: gill byrd

(UPDATE: The Saints announced at 2:20 p.m. Friday that Jairus Byrd will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury).

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd has been talking to more than just his team's playres this week.

He also has spoken with his son, Jairus, who plays safety for the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs play in New Orleans on Sunday.

"We talk like we normally do," Gill Byrd said. "Nothing really changes. We understand somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose. But I'm a Jairus Byrd fan."

Gill Byrd, a former NFL cornerback, said he gives his son a critique after every game.

"I may not watch it live, but I watch every game he plays in," Gill Byrd said. "That's what dads do."

Jairus Byrd is in his first season with the Saints after being signed away from Buffalo as a free agent. Gill Byrd said he has been impressed with his son's performance.

"I don't know what they're asking him to do schematically," Gill Byrd said. "But technique-wise, he's doing a lot of the things we talk about doing -- tackling, planting and driving. That's what we talk about. We talk about technique. He has enough guys in his ear about scheme and everything. He's being coached well in New Orleans."

Gill Byrd said going against his son isn't difficult.

"It's not hard for me at all and it's not hard for Jairus," Gill Byrd said. "We're both competitive. The only difference is he wants to play the greatest game of his career in a win and I want it to be the greatest game of his career in a loss."

Father and son met once before, in a game in which Gill was an assistant coach for Chicago and Jairus was playing for Buffalo. The Bears won that game.

Gill Byrd is hoping to keep his winning streak against his son alive.

"I am a Jairus Byrd fan 16 games a year," Gill Byrd said. "I want him to play the best game of his career every game, including when he plays the team I'm coaching. I'm a Saints fan for 14 games a year. But I'm a Bucs coach 16 games a year and I want to win every game."
If the NFL ever arranges some sort of father-son exhibition, the New Orleans Saints will dominate.

Newly signed safety Jairus Byrd is the latest in a wave of Saints acquisitions whose fathers also had standout careers in the NFL. Byrd’s father, Gill, was an outstanding defensive back with the San Diego Chargers from 1983-1993, with two Pro Bowl invitations and 42 career interceptions. Gill Byrd is now the cornerbacks coach with the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In recent years, the Saints have also drafted Mark Ingram (son of former NFL receiver Mark Ingram), Cameron Jordan (son of former NFL tight end Steve Jordan), Nick Toon (son of former NFL receiver Al Toon) and Kenny Stills (son of former NFL defensive back Kenny Stills Sr.)

Gill Byrd, by the way, helped pave the way for his son’s blockbuster $54 million contract with the Saints in more ways than one. Byrd was one of the pioneers who successfully sued the NFL for free agency in the early 1990s.

Former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert reminded me of that when I was joking with him after the Byrd signing about how Hebert also fought the NFL at that time (and sat out an entire season) in hopes of making a $1 million salary.