But Brent wasn’t starting on Dallas’ defensive line when the Cowboys kicked off in Cincinnati on Sunday. He was in jail, accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal accident that killed Brown, an expectant father who had just landed a spot on the Cowboys practice squad.
About an hour after the grieving Cowboys secured an emotional 20-19 victory over the Bengals on the final play, a barefooted Brent walked slowly out of the jail in the Dallas suburb of Irving after his release on $500,000 bond. Surrounded by camera crews and reporters, Brent had several patches of missing hair and a bandage wrapped about his right hand.
“Jerry Brown was my very best friend, and I’m just trying to deal with his death right now,” Brent said, stopping briefly when asked if he had anything to say to Brown’s family. He didn’t answer any other questions.
Brent, a 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound nose guard, was arrested at the scene of the accident Saturday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a charge upped to intoxication manslaughter after the 25-year-old Brown died.
“He is torn up,” Milner said. “It’s not a good moment for anyone. I’m going to take him home. He needs family around him.”
Brown had promised his family that he would play professional football full time, his grandmother said.
“He lived for football,” Theresa Clark, 63, of St. Louis, told The Associated Press on Sunday. “He loved it with all his heart.”
The two athletes’ friendship, which blossomed during their three seasons at the University of Illinois, was obvious to those who knew them. Milner said Brown was living with Brent during the six weeks he spent with the Cowboys.
“You can’t get any tighter than those two,” Milner said, crossing his index and middle fingers. “It was the closest family he had was Jerry Brown.”
The circumstances surrounding Brown’s death didn’t change his family’s view of his relationship with Brent, who pleaded guilty to a driving under the influence charge while a player at Illinois in 2009.
In the Illinois case, Brent was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation among other sanctions, court records show.
According to a probable cause affidavit released Sunday by Irving police, officers said they detected “a moderate odor of alcohol” from Brent’s breath and that he “admitted to consuming alcohol at a club,” but wouldn’t identify which one. Police said Brent gave a blood sample at the hospital on Saturday.