Today’s win for the Cowboys was about more than winning or being a “wild card” team in the playoffs. This game was very much a reminder for Cowboy players just how fragile and precious life is and how one day you can be practicing and getting ready for a game and in a New York minute you are grieving for a teammate and remembering what you said the last time you saw him.
Barely a week after Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself, another tragedy has struck the NFL and just as senseless. Early Saturday morning, Josh Brent was driving at a high rate of speed while intoxicated with a close friend, former Illinois teammate and present Cowboy teammate, Jerry Brown, Jr. Apparently Josh Brent, like so many others while under the influence, ”thought” he could drive, but he couldn’t handle his liquor or his car. No, this time Josh Brent hadn’t learned from his previous lesson during college being sentenced to 60 days in jail and community service for driving drunk. Saturday night he lost control of his car, hit a curb and flipped over, the car coming to rest in the middle of the highway then catching fire. By the time police arrived, Brent was trying to pull his friend out of the car. Jerry Brown, Jr. was pronounced dead at the hospital. Josh Brent, who should have been helping the Cowboys win today, spent the day trying to arrange his freedom after being charged with intoxication manslaughter. He was released later this afternoon under a $500,000 bond.
The saddest thing about this is take away the driving drunk, “we see it every day,” take away the fact that they both were Cowboys players and you are left with one young man who can’t seem to learn from his mistakes and the second young man who lost his life when he made the decision to ride with his friend who was drunk. When will people learn “friends don’t let friends drive drunk”? As a friend, you aren’t obligated to get into a car with a person who is drunk, no matter how good of friends you are, but you are obligated to stop them from hurting themselves or others. If they get mad, they get mad, but at least they are alive to do so. In this instance, here is another example of bad choices costing two more lives in what is an epidemic of young black males dying and potentially facing prison time.
Some way, somehow the Dallas Cowboys were able to find a way to win despite the tragedy. The only touchdown in the first half for the Cowboys came from Demarco Murray with a one yard run in the second quarter. At halftime Dallas trailed the Bengals 13-10. The Cowboys defense kept the Bengals from scoring touchdowns and instead forced them to settle for field goals which kept the game in reach for Dallas.
The second half the Bengals went up 19-10 with the help of Josh Brown’s 25 and 52 yard field goals. With less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Tony Romo connected with Dez Bryant on a 27-yard pass to come to within two points of the Bengals. Again, the defense rose to the occasion and got the ball back for the Cowboy’s offense. The Cowboys drove down to the Bengals 30-yard-line and with four seconds left, Dan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal to win the game 20-19. The Cowboys are now 7-6, tied with the Redskins and still a game back from the New York Giants who are 8-5.
The game ball was given to a man who hadn’t had the chance to play one down or travel with the Cowboys team, Jerry Brown, Jr. Too bad he couldn’t have earned it by his own merits. We’ll never know as Cowboy fans how good or bad Jerry Brown, Jr. could be. Here is yet another family that has lost a loved one way to soon and a child that will have to grow up without a father because of stupidity.
My own thoughts, I have a son a little older than these two young men and something I have always told my son, “Life is about choices whether good or bad ones, and they always have consequences that don’t just affect you but everyone you know and sometimes total strangers.” My prayers and thoughts are with both families. May they all find peace and strength through their faith, family, friends and most of all each other. Because of repeated bad choices from Josh Brent driving drunk to Jerry Brown, Jr., riding with his friend whom he knew had a drinking problem, they’ve both left a trail of pain and hurt that will transcend a lifetime. Malcolm X said it best, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Think!
A sobering statistic from (MADD) Mothers Against Drunk Driving, “About one-third of the drunk driving problem – arrests, crashes, deaths, and injuries – comes from repeat offenders. At any given point we potentially share the roads with 2 million people with three or more drunk driving offenses. Taking away their licenses isn’t enough; 50-75% of them drive anyway.” This is why we need to require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders – we can stop these offenders before they repeat their crimes.