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Cowboys Poll/Discussion: Should Josh Brent Have Been Allowed On The Sidelines?

Tom Pennington

Sometimes, we go through life without being aware of how other people view things. A lot of us try our best to consider how things look through the eyes of others, but it's not always an easy thing to do. Take, for example, the dust up that has occured over the presence of Josh Brent on the Cowboys sideline yesterday.

As we all know, Brent was drunk behind the wheel when his car flipped over, killing his teammate and best friend, Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, Jr. This happened last Friday night/ Saturday morning as the team prepared to travel to play the Cincinnati Bengals. Brent spent the weekend incarcerated while the team played the contest with the utmost of heavy hearts.

Surprising to some, shockwaves went through the Cowboys and national sports community when Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, invited Brent to not only attend Brown's memorial service but to also sit with her and Jerry's family. This was undoubtedly a show of compassion, understanding and the type of unconditional love that comes from truly knowing someone and having them affect your life in a positive manner.

Ms. Jackson asked the Cowboys organization to keep Brent close as he deals with the repercussions of his actions; responsibility for causing the death of his friend as well as the pending legal ramifications for his second DUI (Brent was convicted of the charge during his days at University of Illinois) and intoxicated manslaughter charges.

Yesterday, the Cowboys played their first home game since the tragedy. During the game, CBS' camera crews caught glimpse of Brent, in street clothes, on the Cowboys sideline interacting with his teammates. It turns out that Brent's teammates asked him to join them on the sideline as they went to battle against Pittsburgh.

To me, my reaction was immediately, "That's nice." In my head, I imagine that Brent is going through serious inner turmoil over what he did. I imagine that Brent will be facing a stint of incarceration and most likely the end of his football career. I based my insta-reaction over those perceptions and moved on to watching the rest of the game.

I didn't, however, consider how other people would be viewing things. Not until CBS's halftime crew led by Boomer Esiason lambasted the Cowboys for having Brent on the sideline. He wagged a serious finger of disappointment in the organization for not having enough sense to keep Brent from the team, despite the fact that Brown's mother had asked the team to keep him "close". My reaction was, well, if Brown's mother requested that and has forgiven Brent, what business is it of ours to tell other people how to deal with the situation?

SB Nation's Bomani Jones agrees.

While her ability to forgive is staggering, it's fair to ask how far the Cowboys should go to follow her example. But if she could open her heart that much, could we possibly stop wagging out fingers long enough to consider the complexity of the situation? Brent is still a member of the Cowboys. Those guys are still his teammates. And after the death of his best friend, how much else could he possibly have?

If someone as PR-conscious as Jerry Jones signed off on something he had to know would offend many, there must be something powerfully human behind it. While we're watching all this unfold, the Cowboys are healing. Given the positive spirit behind their decision to have Brent on the sideline, I won't judge the team or Ms. Jackson's desire to grieve in this way.

But not everyone feels that way. I took to Twitter during the game and I received responses that the club should be more responsible. That they were sending a message to young kids that drinking and driving is acceptable. That there aren't any repercussions to killing someone.

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to think about things; I try not to do that. I personally don't agree with those sentiments, but I see the point being made.

On the flip side, I have to really question CBS' "disdain" for the Cowboys having Brent on the sideline (which we've since learned surprised Cowboys management as he was "invited" by other players). Who forced CBS' producers to show Brent being on the sideline? If they were worried about the message it was sending, why continue to show shots of him throughout the contest? There are dozens of people on the Cowboys sidelines that never get air time, it's not as if they were forced to create the story. Brent, when he realized he was being shown on the sideline, left and didn't return for the second half of the contest.

So, what do you think, BTB? The poll is simple, the subject matter is not. Do you think Brent should have been allowed on the sideline.

As this is such a sensitive matter, everyone needs to understand that respect here is paramount. Respect the dead, respect your fellow commenters and what they have to say. We'll be keeping a close eye here to make sure the discussion doesn't get out of hand and need to be shut down.

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