Cowboy defensive lineman charged after teammate dies in auto accident

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by Schuyler Dixon
AP Sports Writer

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent was released Sunday on $500,000 bond, one day after being charged with intoxication manslaughter after what police said was a drunken-driving accident that killed close friend and teammate Jerry Brown.

Brent’s attorney George Milner had called the bond amount excessive and beyond what the team had authorized him to post.

Josh-Brent
CHARGED–In this Dec. 2, 2012, photo, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent runs onto the field out of the team’s tunnel after being introduced before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

“I’d say the bond is 16 times higher than it would have been for anybody that doesn’t play for the Dallas Cowboys,” Milner said.

Jerry-Brown
DIES IN ACCIDENT–In this 2012 photo, NFL football player Jerry Brown of the Indianapolis Colts is shown. The Cowboys signed Brown to their practice squad on Oct. 24, but he hasn’t been on the active roster. (AP Photo/File)

Irving police said Brent was speeding in the Dallas suburb when the vehicle he was driving his a curb and flipped about 2:20 a.m. Saturday. The 25-year-old Brown was found unresponsive at the scene and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Brent was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and the charge was upgraded after Brown died. The manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

“I am devastated and filled with grief,” Brent said in a statement released to multiple media outlets by agent Peter Schaffer. “Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him.

“I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time.”

Brown’s grandmother, Theresa Clark of St. Louis, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Brown and Brent grew close while they were teammates at the University of Illinois from 2007 to 2009.

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

She remembered her eldest grandchild — one of 20 — as a man who would stop at nothing to realize his dream of becoming a professional football player.

“He lived for football. He loved it with all of his heart,” she said, noting that Brown built a foundation of faith, hard work and discipline for his younger cousins to follow.

“They praised him,” she said. “They were all really upset and crying” when they found out about his death.

Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson of Champaign, Ill., told the AP that Brown was an expectant father.

“I’m very excited an anxious to meet my granddaughter,” she said. “She will be here in 2 more months. She is going to be well loved.

“I have scrapbooks and everything to show her what type of father she had. My youngest son, Jeremiah, will be there to push her on to ensure that she can be the best woman that she can be.”

The accident happened hours before Brent was to be on a team flight to Cincinnati, where the Cowboys played the Bengals on Sunday.

Before the game, the Bengals held a moment of silence before the national anthem. Most Cowboys bowed their heads, and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and several other players had their hands over their hearts.

On Fox’s NFL Sunday show, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team had focused on Brown’s death in the “last few hours.” He didn’t mention Brent.

“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.”

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

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.

In February 2009, Brent was arrested in February 2009 near the Illinois campus for driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and speeding, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records. Four months later, Brent pleaded guilty to DUI and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a fine of about $2,000.

As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped one count of aggravated DUI/no valid driver’s license. Brent successfully completed his probation in July 2011, court records show.

Brent, a nose guard, played in the first 12 games this season and was bigger part of the defense than expected with starter Jay Ratliff battling injuries. He has 35 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks and was expected to start Sunday against the Bengals because Ratliff was out with a groin injury.

The Cowboys signed Brown to their practice squad Oct. 24, but he hasn’t been on the active roster. He was released from the Colts’ practice squad Oct. 20. Brown was active for one game with the Colts, a loss to the New York Jets on Oct. 14.

Former Illinois coach Ron Zook said Brent, a third-year player who made the first start of his career in the opener against the New York Giants, was trying to help Brown make it in the NFL.

“It was Jerry’s dream, and Josh was trying to help him any way he could,” Zook said.

Zook said he spoke with Schaffer, who said he had made contact with Brent.

“He said Josh was distraught, and he didn’t care about himself or what was happening to him,” Zook said. “All he cared about was Jerry’s family.”

“On behalf of the entire Colts family, our sincerest condolences go out to Jerry’s family and friends,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. “He was a good teammate that was well liked by all. Today’s tragic news is just another reminder of how fragile life is and how everyday given is a gift.”

Brent and Brown played at Illinois from 2007 to 2009. Brent played as a freshman and finished his career with 71 tackles and five sacks. Brown, who took a redshirt season at Illinois the year before Brent arrived, had 13 tackles combined in 2007 and 2008 but didn’t play in 2009.

“I can’t believe it,” Travon Bellamy, a former Illinois teammate, wrote on Twitter. “Before people pass judgment on Josh, they need to know that he is a good person that made a bad mistake.”Brown played for San Antonio in the Arena Football League this year. In 2011, he played for Jacksonville in the AFL and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League.

He was born and grew up in St. Louis, attending Vashon High School.

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