The Cowboys won a vitally important game in their hunt for the playoffs with a dramatic 27-24 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon, but their organization lost my respect.
On an afternoon where the National Football League rightfully honored the lost lives in Newtown, Massachusetts after the horrific events from Friday, the Dallas Cowboys invited Josh Brent to be on their sidelines.
Brent, a nose tackle with the Cowboys, was the driver in a crash on December 8th that lead to the death of passenger, and practice squad member, Jerry Brown. The Dallas Morning News has quoted an unnamed law enforcement source saying Brown's blood-alcohol content was .18, well over twice the legal limit in Texas.
Eight days later, Brent is out on bond, and back around the organization that put him on
the reserve/non-football illness list. I have no problem with him getting the support of his teammates, in fact, Brown's mother Stacey Jackson had Brent by her side during her son's memorial service last week.
I have a major problem with the fact that a public figure that committed the same act as a friend of mine is getting far different treatment.
A childhood friend of mine, let's call him Xavier, was involved in a crash where he was driving 60 in a 25 zone, and lost control, wrapping his car around a light pole and killing his best friend who was in the back seat. Much like the Cowboys, Xavier quickly earned the forgiveness of his best friend's family who clearly understood it was a high school kid making a terrible mistake that will likely be etched in his memory for life.
Xavier didn't get to attend a football game and laugh in front of a CBS Network Camera eight days later. He was incarcerated. I'm not sure how being behind bars helps someone get help after "accidental" speeding or alleged DWI, but that's the route society has chosen for those who have committed vehicular manslaughter.
Josh Brent has many long days ahead, I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be having a fun evening with your friend one minute and then potentially be the reason he is no longer with you the next. I can only hope that his friends and family are as strong as Xavier's was, and still is, in terms of getting him through a very rough patch.
The forgiveness of the Brown family must release a huge burden, but if the facts turn out to be true, he took a 4,000 pound vehicle while intoxicated onto public roadways where he could have done far more damage than even one person dead. As someone who has driven on the Texas roadways twice this year, knowing that Brent pleaded guilty three years ago to driving under the influence — a misdemeanor — while he was playing at Illinois. In the Illinois case, Brent was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation, according to court records.
I sincerely hope the best for him, and that he gets the help he needs to not make those kind of flawed decisions again. Personally, I don't think putting him in a public setting is the right move. The Cowboys clearly have the right intention: Get him back in his football "family" and try to return things to normal. I'm sorry, they're not.
Xavier eventually segued from full-time in prison into a weekend-only program to finish serving his court-mandated time. I only have to believe his mind is still serving its own time for the events; I've never been able to bring it up.
Xavier was an honor roll student when his crash happened, and is thankfully working a stable job and owns a home, you can rally from the darkest of days.
From what I can see from Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, he will be right there with his organization making sure Brent does the same. But by putting Brent in the public light, it serves to promote that you can make a horrific scene like that, and be back to normal activities in eight days. That's not the message I want being passed along as part of a game seen by close to twenty million viewers, many of whom are impressionable young drivers and adults.
Delmarva Broadcasting Company, parent of WDEL, runs a program called Smartdrive. The stated goal is educating young drivers on making smart decisions when behind the wheel. No texting behind the wheel, better driving skills, and "Pay attention your body, don't take the wheel if you are tired or feeling sick and NEVER, EVER take the wheel if impaired by drugs, legal, illegal or over the counter, or alcohol."
If any lesson is learned by the fateful events of December 8th, it's that you need to treat driving seriously. Hopefully Brent gets that lesson. I just don't want to see him right now. What's good for Xavier, is good for him. I'm certainly not naive to realize that celebrities and athletes are given preferential treatment in many aspects of life, but when it comes to a loss of life, I would like to think "America's Team" holds itself to a higher standard than that.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this article
Posted at 10:46pm on December 16, 2012 by Sean Greene
Sean: I appreciate the above posting. It certainly is a travesty and I'm surprised after Michael Vick and Plaxico Burrus that this guy isn't in jail. But stay tuned. The state of Texas may seek a prison sentence for Mr. Brent and a jury may see fit to send him there.
I met your mentor Len Holmquist a few weeks ago. He speaks quite well of you. Len and Rose are having a wonderful retirement.
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