Two weeks ago Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was involved in a single car accident that killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown. The initial investigation into the accident has shown that Brent was intoxicated while driving, and he is currently facing DUI Manslaughter charges for the accident. After being incarcerated, Brent posted bail and was living a normal life. Since he is a football player in his normal life, Brent showed up with his teammates on the sidelines last week when the Cowboys hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. The situation hit the fan when CBS shined a spotlight on Brent being on the sideline, and used an entire segment of their halftime show to devote to trashing the Cowboys organization for allowing Brent to be on the sidelines. On Monday following the game, Dallas radio and even here in New York City, media was taking shots at the Cowboys for allowing Brent to be on the sidelines. Later in the the week the Cowboys management released a statement about the situation and poured gasoline on an already smoking fire. The situation with Brent is a tragedy in every sense of the word. We have a dead son, sibling and friend, and the organization just threw more embarrassment to everyone involved in this story.
Brent is the first person who deserves to be embarrassed. His actions alone that fateful night should cause him to feel embarrassed. Drunk Driving is a terrible offense and embarrassing enough, but when it takes the life of another person it goes from embarrassing to tragic. We have seen NFL players commit DUI Manslaughter of innocent people, Donte Stallworth committed this offense a few years ago, but Brent’s case is equally crushing because it involved his best friend and teammate. I cannot imagine the amount of guilt Brent must feel, and never wish to have to go through that kind of situation. Forget looking myself in the mirror, but looking my friend’s family in the face would be unbearable if in the same situation. Even if you look past the situation, Brent should be embarrassed for the way he showed up on the sidelines on Sunday. When he was shown on television, he was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Putting aside the debate whether he should have been there in the first place, if he was going to be there he should have been dressed in better clothes than a team sweat suit. He should have been in a full suit and tie to show that he understands why he was on the sidelines in street clothes and not in his shoulder pads and helmet.
The second party involved in this embarrassment is CBS and the crew in the studio of the halftime show. The fact that they spent an entire segment of their halftime coverage to shine the light on Brent was infuriating. Then, Boomer Esiason opined with a rant trashing the Cowboys management for allowing this to happen. In the intro to the discussion, James Brown mentioned how the mother of Jerry Brown asked the Cowboys to treat Brent with dignity and respect during this trying time. This statement was trashed by Mr. Esiason when he said “I don’t care what the mother thinks, he should not be there.” No matter how you feel about Brent or his actions, the mother of the deceased should have the final say in all matters dealing with this situation. Spouting an opinion on the handling of the situation is fine, but to slander a grieving family that has shown compassion to the person responsible for the death of their son is completely unacceptable. While everything else Mr. Esiason said in his rant was acceptable and debatable, once he brushed aside the feelings of the grieving mother, his entire argument was washed away. For no one on the set to acknowledge the feelings of the Brown family was a disgrace to an otherwise upstanding organization at CBS.
Because of the CBS coverage during the game on Sunday, the Brent story was thrust into the front of almost all types of coverage. Most radio personalities took the opportunity to jump on the CBS bandwagon and trash the Cowboys handling of the situation. The media embarrassed themselves because most sports personalities did the same as Mr. Esiason by brushing off the wishes of the Brown family. The media coverage of the situation was equally as disgraceful as CBS, but because of the multitude of opinions expressed it seemed overwhelming with people spouting their own personal feelings, rather than looking at the entire scenario without respect to the Brown family.
There is only one shining light in this entire situation, from crash, to death, to the game on Sunday. The shining light came in the form of Stacey Jackson, Jerry Brown Jr’s mother. This is a woman who has just lost her son in a senseless act, yet she has shown grace and dignity in the face of tragedy. Jackson has embraced her son’s friend and killer, Brent. She went even as far as having Brent sit with the family during the funeral and looking out for Brent’s well being in the face of this entire experience. Mrs. Jackson has extended her forgiveness to Brent by meeting with Cowboys officials to discuss how the situation should be handled. Not only has she looked out for her dead son’s wishes, but she has battled for Brent as well. She has instructed the Cowboys organization to look out for Brent and support him throughout the entire situation. The way Brent and the Cowboys have been trashed in the media is a direct slap in the face to the work that this woman has done. Her compassion and forgiveness should be the main focus of the coverage, but instead the media has focused on Brent and the Cowboys handling of the situation. I feel embarrassed for her, because her family has not only lost a son, but also could have lost a friend in Brent.
The media pressure and spotlight on the sideline situation caused the Cowboys to make a statement later in the week following the negative criticism. As if the Cowboys weren’t embarrassed enough about the entire situation of a player’s death inflicted by another teammate, they stepped further in the muck with their public comments about the situation. On Wednesday, the team released a statement saying “[Cowboys Management] was unaware of the player being on the sidelines for the game on Sunday.” They also went on to state that Brent will not be on the sidelines for the duration of the season. This is embarrassing/scary on two fronts for the organization. First of all let start with a question. How does a football team not have control of who is on their sidelines? Second question, how does no one in the organization think about this after the situation occurred, and prior to the game on Sunday? This is a direct lack of oversight for an organization and shows mismanagement outside of the realm of football. The Cowboys front office should be embarrassed that they did not handle this situation until it blew up in their face. Another embarrassment from the organization was their bowing to public pressure. Their first allegiance should be to the Brown Family and Stacey Jackson. If she says treat the man with dignity and respect, the Cowboys should bend over backwards to make sure this guy does not embarrass the organization in any way. The lack of oversight is completely disgraceful, especially for a usually outstanding professional man like Jerry Jones.
The last person and certainly most deserving of being last on the list is myself and the fans that supported Brent in the wake of the game on Sunday. As a member of the Cowboys fan base, I will speak for the group of fans that supported the decision of having Brent with his teammates on Sunday. When it was first reported, we were lead to believe that Mrs. Jackson wanted Brent to be with his teammates on Sunday. This lead me to believe that the Cowboys put him on the sideline out of respect for the woman that just lost her son. In Facebook groups such as “Realistic NFL Fans – Extreme Football Talk” debates were had about the purpose of him being on the sideline. I had many debates with people and my point was that if the mother of the dead player asked for Brent to be on the sideline then that is what they should do. The Cowboys management turned the tables on that argument with their proclamation that they had no clue about him being there. They embarrassed everyone involved and fans like myself that thought this was some kind of compassionate act towards the Brown family to respect their wishes. Come to find out it was just a case of ineptitude on the part of the Dallas management.
In light of this tragic situation, everyone mentioned should feel embarrassed by their actions. Brent deserves the most of the blame and embarrassment for creating this situation by getting behind the wheel of a car drunk. After Brent, the Cowboys could have gotten rid of this entire PR disaster by doing one of two things. They could have kept Brent away from the facility and made that statement prior to the game Sunday. Or if they wanted to show compassion for Mrs. Jackson, they could have easily opened up a suite for Jackson and the Brown Family to watch the game and had Brent watch the game with the family instead of on the sidelines with his teammates. As far as Brown being on the sidelines is concerned, he could have avoided all of this by being dressed in a respectful manner. If he was allowed to be on the sidelines and I ran the Cowboys, or was a coach on the Cowboys staff, Brent would be dressed in a suit while he is inactive on the sideline. Being seen in a sweatsuit is not a way to show compassion and remorse for the terrible thing that he did.
In closing, this is in no way an article that takes the blame away from Josh Brent, or diminishes the crime he committed. Brent was stupid and made an incredibly bad choice when he decided to get behind the wheel of his car with the blood alcohol level as high as allegedly reported. The stupidity of that choice is multiplied when you know that every NFL player has access to a free ride, if out drinking. All of that being said, Brent is out on bail and awaiting trial for the crimes he committed. Until his day in court, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Everyone in the United States is awarded that right and it is the foundation of our society. The media in recent years has tried to circumvent the legal process and convict people in the court of public opinion, and the rush to condemn any person for any crime is an embarrassment to the media. The Cowboys as an organization failed on multiple levels. They failed to cut this problem off before it became an issue, then they claimed negligence as an excuse for what happened. Negligence of the issue does not absolve any embarrassment, it just inflames it more. The one person that should not feel embarrassment in this story is Stacey Jackson. She has shown incredible compassion in the face of unimaginable tragedy. The Cowboys have basically thrown her under the bus by claiming they had no knowledge of Brent being on the sidelines, when she specifically asked the team to treat him with dignity and respect. Mrs. Jackson was also disrespected by the media because her story of compassion and forgiveness was thrown to the side for a chance to bash the Cowboys and for media personalities to preach on their bully pulpit about their own feelings about drunk driving. Hopefully this article is the last we have to hear of this embarrassing situation for the Cowboys, but unfortunately we all know that this will not be the last time a football player is arrested for drunk driving, let’s just hope the next DUI arrest does not end in the life of another human being.