Brown mourned at memorial service
Players given the day off to honor their teammate.
DALLAS — Jason Garrett gave the Dallas Cowboys a day off after his players somehow pulled off a win in Cincinnati while reeling from a one-car accident that killed one teammate and landed another in jail.
Many players showed up at team headquarters anyway and there was Josh Brent, the hulking defensive tackle who missed the trip after police say he was driving drunk and caused the wreck that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, his close friend and roommate.
And Brent was back with his teammates again Tuesday for a private memorial honoring Brown. Players and team officials left without talking to reporters after the hour-long service on a chilly afternoon at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, but Garrett had made it clear that Brent was still a part of the Cow- boys family.
“We’re going to support Josh 100 percent in every way that we can,” Garrett said Monday, a day after the Cowboys beat the Bengals 20-19 with a field goal on the final play to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Brent arrived at the service earlier than most of the Cowboys players, team executives and staff members. He was in a van with several other people and could be seen hugging Brown’s mother before walking into the building. Brent was one of the last to leave, too. He grew close to Brown during three seasons together at the University of Illinois, and took in Brown when the Cowboys added the 25-year-old to the roster in October.
“It’s a really, really dif- ficult situation for him,” Garrett said. “We want to make him feel that there are people around him who can help him get through this thing day by day.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had “no issues” with Brent being at team facilities while the manslaughter case against him works its way through the courts. Pittsburgh visits Dallas on Sunday in another game with playoff implications for both teams.
Police in suburban Irving say Brent was speeding when his vehicle struck a curb and flipped early Saturday, hours before Brent was supposed to be on the team flight to Cincinnati. Brown was taken to a Dallas hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County medical examiner said he died after suffering blunt force trauma to his head and neck.
Officers who arrived at the accident scene found Brent pulling Brown from the wreck, according to an arrest affidavit. However, a woman who arrived moments after the accident said Brent didn’t between the league and the NFL Players Association. He added that he hoped doing so would allow the NFL and union to move forward collaboratively to the more important matters of enhancing player safety.
“To be clear: this case should not be considered a precedent for whether similar behavior in the future merits player suspensions or fines,” his ruling said.
Tagliabue oversaw the second round of player appeals to the league in connection with the cash- try to save his friend’s life until she begged him.
“Jerry was alive,” Stacee McWilliams of Irving told The Dallas Morning News. “He was hurt. He was calling out, and his own friend walked away.”
McWilliams, a 40-yearold insurance company employee, said she was on her way home from her birthday party when she noticed the wreck and stopped. She told the newspaper Monday she could no longer talk about the case on the instruction of Irving police, and she did not respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking an interview Tuesday.
Brent’s attorney, George Milner, told the AP that an investigating officer told him the woman’s story didn’t match the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death. Milner said he was told that Brown “wasn’t talking to anyone. He wasn’t moaning. He was dead.”
Milner said the woman told police that Irving fire personnel weren’t at the scene, which isn’t consistent with what occurred. for-hits program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-11.
Goodell had given Vilma a full-season suspension, while he gave Smith, Fujita and Hargrove shorter suspensions.
Tagliabue cleared Fujita of conduct detrimental to the league.
The former commissioner found Goodell’s actions historically disproportionate to past punishment to players for similar behavior, which had generally been reserved to fines, not suspensions. He also stated that it was very difficult to determine whether the pledges players made were genuine, or simply a motivational ploy, par- ticularly because Saints defenders never demonstrated a pattern of dirty play on the field.
“We respect Mr. Tagliabue’s decision, which underscores the due process afforded players in NFL disciplinary matters,” the league said in a statement.
“The decisions have made clear that the Saints operated a bounty program in violation of league rules for three years, that the program endangered player safety, and that the commissioner has the authority under the (NFL’s collective bargaining agreement) to impose discipline for those actions as conduct detrimental to the league.”
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate and friend Jerry Brown, arrives at Tuesday’s memorial service in Dallas.