Normally, I do a post for Sunday morning about news articles concerning the Dallas Cowboys' game each week. There is nothing normal about this week. There is only one news topic that matters.
For the second time in two weeks, unimaginable tragedy has struck the NFL. After the terrible murder/suicide in Kansas City, Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown Jr. was killed in a car crash, and the driver was Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent. It was a horrible, monumentally stupid, totally preventable event that has struck the Cowboys to the core.
Brent now sits in jail in Irving, Texas, charged with intoxicated manslaughter. The charge is a second degree felony in Texas, and carries a potential prison sentence of 2 to 20 years. It all should never have happened.
Brent and Brown were friends from their college days at Illinois, playing together from 2007 to 2009. This started as a bit of celebration and ended with one young life snuffed out and a promising NFL career ruined. Far worse, Brent now has to carry the weight of knowing this is all on his head for the rest of his life.
Brown had followed a long, hard road to get to the NFL, having played arena football in Jacksonville and San Antonio and for the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL. He had finally gotten a foot in the door with the Cowboys' practice squad, and was apparently giving all he had to make the most of his opportunity.
Chatted with Bryan Broaddus. Said Brown worked, wanted to be good, gave the tackles fits, had a chance down the line. 'He got it.'— Carlos A. Mendez (@calexmendez) December 9, 2012
He leaves behind an unborn child, and a dream that will now be forever unfulfilled. as a heart-wrenching post on Facebook reveals.
"Sometimes when I actually get a chance to get away from football I think of how bad I want a family (wife, children) and how the fast life isn't as fun as it use to be after living for so long."
His chances are gone now. And for Josh Brent, a promising career is now shattered. He was the player the team relied on to fill in for the injured Jay Ratliff. But ultimately, he made choices that have devastated two families and an entire NFL organization. It was not the first time for him, either.
Brent was arrested after his sophomore season at Illinois for driving under the influence and suspended from the team indefinitely by then coach Ron Zook in February of 2009. He returned (to) the team for junior season.
He spoke at times about what he supposedly learned from that incident.
RT @deadspin: Josh Brent once reflected on his month in jail for DUI: "You realize ... how naive and dumb you can be sometimes."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 8, 2012
Sadly, he did not learn enough.
This is about far more than football. This is about how horrifically wrong thing can go when people do not take responsibility for themselves and think that the rules and simple common sense do not apply to them. There is certainly anger to be felt towards Brent, who not only had paid a price once for his inability to control his drinking, but who had plenty of alternatives for getting behind the wheel after having indulged himself. The Cowboys provide rides, on call, for any player who feels they have had too much and ask to be driven home. Selfishly, thoughtlessly, Brent did not avail himself of this. His friend has now paid the ultimate price for that mistake.
But at the same time, mourn for what he has done to himself. Reports are that he was trying to pull his friend from the car when first responders arrived. It is beyond my ability to imagine what he must be going through, sitting in a jail cell with the knowledge of what he has done in his head. Knowing that he could have prevented all this if only he had done the right thing.
For the moment, do not care about what this means in a game played for your entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. As I said, this is about so much more. If you are reading this, you are a part of the fan community I love. Many of you are regulars here, and you all mean something to me, and hopefully to each other. In the name of all you love and cherish, if you ever drink, or use any other intoxicant, legal or not, never, ever put yourself and those around you in jeopardy by getting behind the wheel of a car. And never get into a vehicle with a driver who has partaken. Do not add to the long, bloody list of lives cut short or destroyed by a few moments of chemically-induced pleasure compounded by idiotic judgement.
And remember, pray for if you believe, those who are having to bear the pain this event has brought. To the families and loved ones of both Jerry Brown and Josh Brent, we grieve with and for you. To all the members of the Dallas Cowboys organization, we are so sorry for the burden you now have on your lives.