ARLINGTON, Texas — Citing the need to get the priorities of his life in order, troubled Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday, on the eve of the team’s departure for training camp and before a probable suspension was to be handed down by the NFL commissioner’s office.
Brent, awaiting a September trial on intoxication manslaughter charges in the Dec. 8, 2012, death of teammate and close friend Jerry Brown Jr., has received support from the Cowboys through what coach Jason Garrett termed “a traumatic time.”
“I think it’s a good decision for him,” Garrett said during a Cowboys Stadium appearance at a charity-based football clinic. “It’s a traumatic time . . . He’s a great young man who made a mistake.”
Added owner Jerry Jones, also in attendance at the clinic: “We’ve wanted to be very supportive. We’re trying to help a ‘family’ member.”
Brent, 25, played three seasons for the Cowboys as a part-time starter. He was selected in the seventh-round of the 2010 Supplemental Draft, and one reason for his low placement there was a DUI incident while at Illinois.
“This is the right decision for me, and something that I have given a lot of thought to,” Brent said in his statement. “I am at a point where my main focus is all about getting the priorities in my life in order. 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 has been in and out of jail over the course of the last few months, in part because he’s tested positive for marijuana twice, violations of the judge’s order. Brent is wearing a drug patch and a SCRAM device to monitor further violations.
The Cowboys say it is premature to speculate on the football future of Brent, who will apparently move to the team’s Retired-Injured list (meaning Dallas retains his rights). He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the intoxication manslaughter charge, though he could also get probation.
If Brent does attempt a return to football, he will likely face a one-year suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at that time.
“In my mind, (the retirement) speaks for itself,” Jones said. “He basically wants to concentrate on where he should be concentrating on in his life.”