December 12, 2012

Cowboys trying to move forward without Josh Brent

The defensive lineman had a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit at the time of Saturday's fatal accident, The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday, citing a source.

IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys finally did the inevitable on Wednesday, placing nose tackle Josh Brent on the reserve non-football injury/illness list, effectively ending his season while he faces a charge of intoxication manslaughter in the death of practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown.

The move came three days after Brent was released on bond from the Irving Jail after being arrested early Saturday morning following the one-car accident and one day after he attended the private memorial for Brown along with his teammates and the linebacker's family.

The memorial was the first step in the process for Cowboys players and coaches to try to move forward from a tragic situation they will remember for the rest of their lives while also preparing for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh at Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys left Brown's locker untouched in the locker room. They replaced Brent on the roster with former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Brian Schaefering and then practiced for the first time since the tragedy.

"I think the whole situation has been very challenging for all of us right from the start for obvious reasons," coach Jason Garrett said. "The big thing that we have to do is balance remembering Jerry and honoring him, supporting Josh in every way that we can, and also getting back to living our lives, as individuals, as players, as coaches, as a football team, and getting back to work.

"They aren't two separate things. I believe you can do both. But we have to focus on getting our work done for Pittsburgh this week."

The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that Brent's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, citing a "law enforcement source familiar with the investigation."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he expects to speak to Brent soon. But since the team moved Brent to the reserve/non-football injury/illness list, Goodell will take his time in disciplining Brent.

"Because he's not active and he will not be involved with the club, I think we'll allow the legal process to move forward a little bit and get a little more clarity on that front," Goodell said at the NFL owners meetings in Irving.

Brent will be allowed to continue coming to the team's Valley Ranch training complex to be around his teammates and for treatment.

The Cowboys say they will continue to support Brent as he deals with the charges and the mental anguish from the death of his best friend, roommate and teammate, dating to their days in college.

"He needed it," Jason Hatcher, one of the many Cowboys who hugged Brent at the memorial, said of the support. "It's easy in that situation to feel alone. He's got brothers around him. I will do anything in the world to help him out during this process. I'm going to be at his house. He is going to get tired of seeing me because I'm going to be there to support him."

The accident occurred after Brent and Brown were returning from a night of drinking at a private club, Privae Dallas. According to the Twitter account of a club promoter, at least 12 Cowboys were in attendance that night.

Hatcher said he told Brent, who faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted, that he will play football again. He also cautioned against condemning Brent as a bad guy. He said God has a plan for Brent and something good is going to come of it.

"I'm sure guys learned from it," Hatcher said. "At the end of the day, God has a plan. It could have been any of us. I'm not a saint."

Cowboys players and personnel said their support of Brent doesn't mean they condone drunken driving or are trying to absolve him of blame. It's just a matter of them giving him unconditional love and support in a time of need, Garrett said.

The Cowboys were inspired to dig even deeper with their support for Brent because of the way Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, showed forgiveness and love for him.

Garrett called her an inspiration because of her love for Brent.

"She's been a rock for everybody," Garrett said. "It's like nothing I've ever seen."

It's fitting, because this is a situation like none other in Cowboys history.

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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