If you watched the Cowboys-Steelers game yesterday, you probably caught a glimpse of defensive lineman Josh Brent standing on the sideline. Brent, who had been put on the Cowboys’ reserve non-injured/illness list, was involved in a car wreck last week that killed his friend and fellow teammate Jerry Brown. Reports show that Brent, who was the driver, had a blood alcohol-content of .18, twice the legal limit. The third-year pro is facing charges for intoxication manslaughter and is currently out of jail on $500,000 bond.
Barely a week after the wreck, Brent was back with the team, laughing and jawing with teammates on the sideline. This brought on a lot of hostility from the media, most notably from former Bengals quarterback and current CBS analyst Boomer Esiason, who called Brent’s presence a “disgrace.”
“Football players are an example,” Esiason said, “and Josh Brent is the worst of those examples.”
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones continues to stand behind Brent and the team’s decision to have him at the game. “Our team and our players wanted him today on the sideline,” Jones said Sunday, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Jerry’s mother (Stacey Jackson) asked us directly as a group, ‘Support him. Help him. He needs your help. Jerry wants that. I want that.’ His teammates asked him to come and be down there with them and that's where we are.”
"We wanted him here, that's our brother," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "He was very supportive. He was able to tell us what was going on, on the field, and he was there for us. He came in here and said, 'Don't feel sorry for me, ball.' That's the type of guy he is. He's a young guy who made a mistake, and at the end of the day, God has a purpose for his life."
A viable case can be made for both sides of this argument, and understandably so. It is so hard to forgive someone who has caused the death of another, especially when that death could have been avoided. And while it would have been so easy for Brown’s mother to be angry and bitter, she has instead shown great compassion and support, and that is truly something to be admired.
I am not condoning Brent’s actions. The death of his friend will undoubtedly haunt him for the rest of his life. But if the victim’s mother is able to forgive, how much more so should we? It’s so easy to be angry and hurt by the actions of others. What happened in Newton, Connecticut continues to blow my mind, and my heart aches for those parents. But hate has never overcome evil. Anger has never stopped the wrong. Love is the only answer in times like these, and the kind that Stacey Jackson has shown to Josh Brent should be a lesson to us all.
(Brent (in white) and Jackson (in tan) at Brown's funeral)
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