Should Cowboys follow Patriots’ lead with Brent?

IRVING, Texas — You think the Dallas Cowboys should cut Josh Brent as he awaits his September trial on intoxication manslaughter charges? Fine. There are any number of justifiable reasons to do so, including sending a moral and ethical “tough-on-criminal-stupidity” message through the locker room and to the fan base.

You think the Cowboys should cut Josh Brent because the Patriots cut Aaron Hernandez?

That may sound moral and ethical, but it doesn’t take into account the nuances.

Hernandez on Wednesday was hauled away in handcuffs as officials in Boston investigate his involvement in a murder. Within minutes of the scene being shown on live national TV, the Patriots acted swiftly by announcing the release of the star player.

Meanwhile, Josh Brent is back in jail after failing a second drug test, testing positive for marijuana.

Somebody died. An athlete was involved. So naturally, any moral and ethical person should see that the circumstances should be handled in exactly the same manner, right?

Wrong.

For the sake of argument:

*Maybe the Patriots know enough about the details of the case to be able to predict that Hernandez’ football life is over. Meanwhile, maybe the Cowboys know that Brent could get probation and be eligible for the NFL again in 2014. Because for all of the “morals-and-ethics” bleating, New England might have hung onto Hernandez for one more day if it was playing in the Super Bowl on Wednesday.

*Or maybe the Cowboys believe that rather than “sending a message” of intolerance that benefits the team in the long-term, their message of brotherhood toward Brent is important, too. The mother of the friend killed in the accident with Brent driving certainly thinks so, which is among the reasons Jerry Brown Jr.’s family has urged the Cowboys to maintain their embrace of Brent.

*Or maybe, quite simply, someone views alleged involvement in a premeditated murder as being different than involvement in a drunk-driving accident. Is there not room for nuance between the sloppy, stupid and tragic mistake of drunk driving and the psychopathic action of premeditated murder?

This would be an opportune time, after heading back to jail after a second failed drug test, for the Cowboys to say enough is enough. They could tell their locker room and their fan base that the action isn’t a “stand against drugs” because drugs are already illegal and no stand is necessary. Rather, it’s a stand against Brent thumbing his nose at authority, authority that holds Brent’s future — football and otherwise — in its hands.

If Josh Brent responded to the authority by figuratively blowing smoke rings at it, his friends inside the locker room will be made to understand that a line was crossed.

But it’s a Cowboys line and it comes with deep thought and nuance. If it was black-and-white and firm, maybe the Patriots should’ve cut Hernandez last week. Maybe Ray Lewis should’ve never been allowed to win a Ravens Super Bowl. Maybe Jim Harbaugh’s DUI should preclude him from coaching the 49ers. Maybe, in the wake of the NCAA’s ruling on Cheatin’ Chip Kelly, the Eagles should fire him this instant.

But those are Ravens, 49ers and Eagles decisions. They have nothing to do with the Cowboys.

And what New England has done is a Patriots decision. It also has nothing to do with the Cowboys, who — upon learning for certain that Brent failed yet another test of respect for authority, his employer and himself — should cut Josh Brent.

But not because of Aaron Hernandez. Just because of Josh Brent.