The Dallas Cowboys have purged their roster of so many marquee names on defense that a man can walk out of a drug and alcohol treatment center and immediately be part of the line rotation. On Thursday, former Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in hopes of being reinstated after serving 180 days in jail and being placed on 10 years’ probation for intoxication manslaughter.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones vowed Monday to find a roster spot for Brent once he’s reinstated by the commissioner. This man loves a good redemption story, as evidenced by his attempt to turn former Raiders first-round pick Rolando McClain into the Cowboys’ starting middle linebacker. Jones likes to gamble on players who are nearly out of options. We’ve seen it with Adam "Pacman" Jones and Tank Johnson. This seems to be part of Jerry’s calling in the NFL.
I’m not sure Brent’s timing is great for meeting with Goodell. The commissioner is currently facing heavy criticism for his relatively light punishment (two games) of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice in a case involving domestic abuse.
Goodell will likely suspend Brent for 6-8 games. If that happens, the Cowboys will try to make sure the defensive tackle is ready to play at midseason. There’s no telling how thin the club will be along the defensive line at that point. Brent will be either the second or third most talented defensive lineman on this roster the day he re-signs with the Cowboys. That’s all you need to know about this team’s personnel on that side of the ball.
I think Brent would be better off getting a fresh start with a different organization. But Jerry can’t stand the thought of him helping another team. This is the Father Flanagan of the NFL. And on Tuesday, head coach Jason Garrett decided he better get onboard the Brent train. He talked about where Brent would fit in the Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme, but he focused on his continued recovery.
"Job one for you is simply to get your life back together and get yourself acclimated," Garrett told reporters. "I know football is a big part of his life, his football family is a big part of his life and we will be there to help him and support him. Just one day at a time, make sure you are doing the right things in your life every day and that you’re doing the right things in your football life every day and know that we are here for you."
Jones indicated that he wouldn’t try to lobby Goodell for a lighter punishment for Brent. You should choose to believe this at your own risk.
"Good judgment tells us let this happen on the commissioner’s time," Jones told reporters Monday. "Seriously, I don’t want to be presumptuous and there’s no pressure. He looks and should look at all discipline straight to the player … There’s no place for input, in my mind, from the club asking to facilitate something that might be to the advantage of the club. This is about the player, the player’s future, the NFL and our policies in the NFL."
The Cowboys finally had to move on without Brent before the 2013 season. But you figured he’d have a spot waiting on him. He’s the rare player who was able to gain leverage while sitting in a jail cell.