Cowboys in wreck were good friends

Josh Brent and Jerry Brown met in college, forming a close,
unshakeable bond. Having realized his NFL dream, Brent was trying
to help his roommate do the same.

But Brent wasn’t starting on Dallas’ defensive line when the
Cowboys kicked off in Cincinnati on Sunday. He was in jail, accused
of driving drunk and causing a fatal accident that killed Brown, an
expectant father who had just landed a spot on the Cowboys practice
squad.

About an hour after the grieving Cowboys secured an emotional
20-19 victory over the Bengals on the final play, a barefooted
Brent walked slowly out of the jail in the Dallas suburb of Irving
after his release on $500,000 bond. Surrounded by camera crews and
reporters, Brent had several patches of missing hair and a bandage
wrapped about his right hand.

”Jerry Brown was my very best friend, and I’m just trying to
deal with his death right now,” Brent said, stopping briefly when
asked if he had anything to say to Brown’s family. He didn’t answer
any other questions.

Brent, a 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound nose guard, was arrested at
the scene of the accident Saturday on suspicion of driving while
intoxicated, a charge upped to intoxication manslaughter after the
25-year-old Brown died.

Attorney George Milner complained that Brent’s bond was set ”16
times higher than it would have been for anybody that doesn’t play
for the Dallas Cowboys.”

”He is torn up,” Milner said. ”It’s not a good moment for
anyone. I’m going to take him home. He needs family around
him.”

Brown had promised his family that he would play professional
football full time, his grandmother said.

”He lived for football,” Theresa Clark, 63, of St. Louis, told
The Associated Press on Sunday. ”He loved it with all his
heart.”

The two athletes’ friendship, which blossomed during their three
seasons at the University of Illinois, was obvious to those who
knew them. Milner said Brown was living with Brent during the six
weeks he spent with the Cowboys.

”You can’t get any tighter than those two,” Milner said,
crossing his index and middle fingers. ”It was the closest family
he had was Jerry Brown.”

The circumstances surrounding Brown’s death didn’t change his
family’s view of his relationship with Brent, who pleaded guilty to
a driving under the influence charge while a player at Illinois in
2009.

”I’m quite sure that Jerry thought the world of him and
respected that young man,” Clark said of Brent.

In the Illinois case, Brent was sentenced to 60 days in jail and
two years of probation among other sanctions, court records
show.

According to a probable cause affidavit released Sunday by
Irving police, officers said they detected ”a moderate odor of
alcohol” from Brent’s breath and that he ”admitted to consuming
alcohol at a club,” but wouldn’t identify which one. Police said
Brent gave a blood sample at the hospital on Saturday.

Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson of Champaign, Ill., confirmed
Brown’s final Facebook post from Nov. 29, in which he wrote that he
was expecting a child and ”how the fast life isn’t as fun as it
use to be after living it for so long.”

”She will be here in two more months,” Jackson said of Brown’s
baby daughter. ”She is going to be well loved. I have scrapbooks
and everything to show her what type of father she had.”

Clark saw Brown about four or five months ago, but spoke with
him frequently via Facebook.

”I have 20 grandchildren and Jerry is the oldest,” Clark said.
”They all looked up to him. They praised him. They were all really
upset and crying. They are going to miss their big cousin. He was
one in a million.”

The accident happened hours before Brent was to be on a team
flight to Cincinnati. The Bengals held a moment of silence before
Sunday’s game, and most Cowboys bowed their heads. Dallas
quarterback Tony Romo and several other players had their hands
over their hearts.

On FOX’s NFL Sunday pregame show, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said
the team had focused on Brown’s death in the ”last few hours.” He
didn’t mention Brent, who played in the first 12 games and was a
bigger presence than expected on defense because of injuries to Jay
Ratliff.

”First of all we all know, but we remind ourselves that there
is something more important than football, and this is life, and
certainly the lost life of Jerry,” Jones said. ”On the other
hand, they know the best way they can honor Jerry, because he was
such a hard worker, so conscientious and enthusiastic about his
career.”

The Cowboys didn’t hide their emotions after Dan Bailey kicked a
field goal as time expired to keep the team’s playoff hopes
alive.

”I don’t remember crying this much other than maybe the day I
was born,” Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears said. ”With Josh’s
situation and Jerry being gone, you felt it.”

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said the team was planning a
private memorial service for Tuesday in the Dallas area.

It marked the second straight week the NFL found itself dealing
with a tragedy right before game day.

Last Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher
fatally shot his girlfriend before killing himself in front of his
coach and general manager. The 25-year-old Belcher shot himself in
the parking lot at the team’s practice complex at Arrowhead
Stadium.