Josh Brent has a simple motivation in continuing his NFL career since his drunken driving accident in December 2012 took the life of teammate and friend Jerry Brown Jr.
“Honestly, to make sure Jerry’s name does not die in vain,” said Brent, who spoke with reporters for the first time since being convicted of intoxication manslaughter in January.
“Jerry was a great person, a great player and had a bright future. A mistake that I made took that away from him, took that away from his daughter, took that away from his mother, so that’s something that I make sure I keep, make sure I’m conscious of that — never let his name die in vain.”
Brent, 26, spoke for less than three minutes Wednesday afternoon, and expressed remorse for the tragic accident. He also appreciated being granted another opportunity to resume his playing career by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Cowboys’ organization.
Brent has served his 10-game suspension handed to him by Goodell for reinstatement, and the Cowboys placed him on the 53-man roster Tuesday.
“It feels good,” said Brent, who signed a non-guaranteed extension through the 2015 season last week.
“I’m a very blessed person to be able to be in this position I am now. Just thankful that the commissioner, the Jones family, Cowboys organization … have allowed me to come back and be a part of this team.
“It’s been a very difficult [process]. It’s something that there’s not an exact formula of how to be successful with this. It’s just something I take daily and try to do the best I can.”
Brent added that he doesn’t know what he can contribute to the team, as he hasn’t played a professional game in nearly two years. But he is not in playing shape yet, coach Jason Garrett said.
Brent still needs to lose weight and show he is a better option along the defensive line than the current rotation.
Some fans, though, question whether Brent should even have this opportunity. Owner Jerry Jones knows that mindset exists, but has been unwavering in his support for Brent.
“He had some experiences since he’s last been on the field — let’s put it like that — that make him appreciate every second he gets to be on a football field,” Jones said. “And he’s got some real goals. He wants to help that little girl very much, which is Jerry Brown’s daughter.”
Brent last played on Dec. 2, 2012, and the high-speed accident occurred six days later in Irving.
Brent, who had a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit for driving at the time of the accident, has been out of football since. He was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years’ probation in January.
Brent didn’t serve his full sentence, being released early and finishing his time at an alcohol and drug treatment center in Texas.
Brent said he’s a changed person and thinks about losing Brown on a daily basis.
“It’s something that I’ve learned from, something I’ll always remember every day of my life,” Brent said. “I miss Jerry. That was my best friend and to know that he’s not here because of a mistake that I made that could have been prevented. It hurts me every day.
“So it’s something once again I take day by day and keep it conscious on the forefront of my mind.”