Brent’s a wreck. He was never going to play this year. Even if he could, the courts were going to send him to jail, or the league was going to suspend him. His retirement makes the point moot, but Brent was always bound to be released if he didn’t retire; likely the Cowboys were waiting until the moment when it would do the least amount of damage to an already broken psyche.
Far from deserving our scorn, what the Cowboys did in keeping Brent was admirable: It was like the band playing as the Titanic sank – a doomed, but sweetly stoic gesture of support in the face of cold, unavoidable reality. So with no chance whatsoever of Brent making the Cowboys 53-man roster, why the outrage from the expert class? The answer is simple: Expert media dogma.
What if Patriots owner Robert Craft had done the exact same thing under the exact same circumstances? The experts would be swooning, and we’d be sick with stories reverently extolling the human element of “The Patriot Way.” But that’s expert dogma: Craft good; Jerry bad. The facts conform to the dogma, and the story writes itself.
For the experts in the national press, literally everything that has anything to do with the Cowboys eventually circles back to Jerry Jones, and is shaped by what has become a reflexive compulsion to sneer at every decision he makes. After 24 years of Jerry, the experts just don’t know how else to cover the Cowboys.
With criticism of the organization growing, one suspects retirement was Brent’s gift to Jerry for showing a steadfast support that he likely doesn’t feel he deserves. By deed, the Cowboys showed a young man who ripped his world apart with one tragic mistake that he is still valued. If that message can somehow penetrate the massive guilt and bitter self loathing – not to mention the self righteous noise from the experts – one life may yet be salvaged from this sad experience.
Josh Brent hates himself. You would, too. For the amount of good it might have done the young man, a temporary, offseason roster spot as a symbol of support hardly seems worth all the fuss. The media’s myopic take on this story makes them look small, cold and petty. Too bad for them Brent wasn’t a Patriot – they might have got the story right.
Lucky for Brent, and his long odds of ever healing, he was a Cowboy.