Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, facing an intoxication manslaughter charge for his role in the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown in a car wreck last December, has decided to retire from the NFL.
The Cowboys announced the news Thursday morning, one day before the team was to leave for training camp in Oxnard, Calif..
“This is the right decision for me, and something that I have given a lot of thought to. I am at a point where my main focus is all about getting the priorities in my life in order,” Brent said in a statement.
“Those priorities are more important than football. Doing the right things in life are more important than football. I love the game very much. I love my teammates, but this is the right thing for me to do.”
Brent’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 23. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, though he could get probation.
The retirement has no impact on the criminal case. But it could indicate to the judge that he is trying to get his life together.
Brent, 25, has tested positive for marijuana twice while on bond, prompting the judge to revoke his bail. He was released from jail earlier this month.
Peter Schaffer, Brent’s agent, said Brent has been through a lot, considering that Brown was his best friend, and he is trying to put his life in the proper order.
“It’s absolutely what’s important,” Schaffer said. “I don’t think people realize how devastating this was for everybody involved. This is a tragedy on so many different levels. It’s a lot of stuff going on with Josh mentally. He is dealing with grief and depression. It was a mature decision on his part to get his priorities about life in the proper order. You’ve got to give him credit.”
The Cowboys have been supportive of Brent throughout the process because those were the wishes of Jerry Brown’s mother. Owner Jerry Jones acknowledged that was one reason Brent was kept on the Cowboys’ roster.
Jones and coach Jason Garrett attended a one-day teaching clinic for youth coaches at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday.
Both remain supportive of Brent.
“I think it [Brent’s retirement] speaks for itself,” Jones said. “He basically wants to concentrate on where he should be concentrating on in his life. This allows him to do that.”
“Josh really needs to get his life in order,” Garrett said. “Football is important to a lot of us. It’s important to Josh. There are other things that are more important. That’s what he needs to do right now for himself.
“It’s a good decision. He has got to take it one day at a time to get his life back together and get himself going.”
The retirement also allows Brent to avoid being suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has that power per the league’s personal conduct policy. The NFL had planned to rule on Brent’s status this weekend and was likely to suspend him for a year.
Now that he has retired, the NFL will not take any action on his case, league spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Considering his September court date, Brent was not going to play in 2013 — even if he was acquitted. Depending on the case outcome and any possible sentence, he could conceivably come out of retirement in a year or two with the Cowboys still retaining his rights.
Garrett said it’s premature to talk about the future, and Schaffer said football is not Brent’s concern right now.
“That is not even part of the discussion,” Schaffer said of Brent’s playing sometime in the future. “Our top priority is making sure Josh does the right things for himself, for Jerry’s [Brown] family and his family, take care of his problems and make himself a better person.”
Brent played three seasons for the Cowboys. He recorded 65 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five pressures, one pass breakup and one forced fumble in 39 career games with five starts. He was selected by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 2010 supplemental draft out of Illinois.