Are Josh Brent and the Cowboys a Good Fit?
The last time Josh Brent played for the Cowboys was December of 2012. Since that game he was involved in a driving accident that caused the death of his teammate and close friend Jerry Brown. Brent was behind the wheel at the time of the accident and police reported that his blood-alcohol level was .18, more than twice the legal limit. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation. That’s a lot of bad stuff in Brent’s life since his last game with the Cowboys. On Sunday Brent was released from jail. The question now is, “What is he going to do with the rest of his life?”
Although he officially retired from the NFL before he began his sentence, he’s just 26 years old and he can ask the league for reinstatement. It’s not clear whether he has to serve any type of rehab assignment as part of his probation or if the NFL will have him serve a suspension before he can play again. Cowboys president Stephen Jones has said that the door is still open to allowing Brent’s return to the team. That may infuriate some, certainly the ones who already think that a 6 month sentence and 10 years probation is way too soft for someone who caused the death of another because of drunk driving. He had faced up to 20 years in prison for the offense, but Brown’s mother’s testimony on behalf of Brent was a huge factor in the prosecution being lenient. Brent and Brown were teammates at the University of Illinois and best friends. She said she loved Brent and can forgive him.
Skeptics will say that the Cowboys would only consider allowing Brent back into the fold because they are so desperate for defensive line help. First off understand Brent is nobody’s answer to Jay Ratliff. He was a decent player at best for Dallas. But if Brent truly is a man of character, and realizes that he’s been given a second chance, having him back in the Cowboys organization and surrounded by his teammates could make a huge difference in his life. And if it does, hopefully Brent evolves from an over-drinking, irresponsible 24-year-old professional athlete into a 26-year-old, thankful, responsible, mature athlete than he could be valuable to the Cowboys in ways that go way beyond the playing field.
Teams need guys with integrity and character. And there are too few of those types in locker rooms of all teams in every sport. If Josh Brent can learn from a tragic time in his life, and help to enlighten future 22-year-old teammates who might be heading down his old path, than the Cowboys should welcome him back. Obviously he still needs to be a player that can still contribute, but he doesn’t have to be an All-Pro. Josh Brent was worthy enough for Jerry Brown’s mourning mother to support him, which says a lot about what she thinks of him. And she just may know the real Brent better than anyone on the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys are truly a quality organization and team like they say they are, then it all starts in the locker room and on the practice field. Players who inspire others and push them to be responsible for others. That’s a big if, but it’s Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett’s challenge to decide if Brent went through hell and came out the same, or turned into someone special.