Cowboys lineman due in court after teammate dies

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IRVING, TEXAS (AP) - Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent was due to appear at a court hearing in Irving on Sunday morning, a day after he was charged with intoxication manslaughter in connection with an accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown.

Irving police said the accident happened about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, hours before Brent was to be on a team flight to Cincinnati.

Before the game, the Bengals held a moment of silence before the national anthem. Most Cowboys bowed their heads, and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and several other players had their hands over their hearts.

On Fox’s NFL Sunday show, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team had focused on Brown’s death in the “last few hours.” He didn’t mention Brent.

“First of all we all know, but we remind ourselves that there is something more important than football, and this is life, and certainly the lost life of Jerry,” Jones said on the TV show. “On the other hand, they know the best way they can honor Jerry, because he was such a hard worker, so conscientious and enthusiastic about his career.”

Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said Saturday that the 25-year-old Brown _ a practice-squad linebacker who also was Brent’s teammate for three seasons at the University of Illinois _ was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a hospital.

“I am devastated and filled with grief,” Brent said in a statement released Saturday to multiple media outlets by agent Peter Schaffer. “Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him.

“I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time.”

It marked the second straight week the NFL found itself dealing with a tragedy right before gameday.

Last Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before killing himself in front of his coach and general manager. The 25-year-old Belcher shot himself in the parking lot at the team’s practice complex at Arrowhead Stadium.

Officers conducted a field sobriety test on Brent and arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Argumaniz said. The charge, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison, was upgraded after Brown was pronounced dead.

In February 2009, Brent was arrested in February 2009 near the Illinois campus for driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and speeding, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records.

In June 2009, Brent pleaded guilty to DUI and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a fine of about $2,000. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped one count of aggravated DUI/no valid driver’s license. Brent successfully completed his probation in July 2011, court records show.

Brent, a nose guard, has played in all 12 games this season and played a bigger role than expected with starter Jay Ratliff battling injuries. He has 35 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks and might have started Sunday against the Bengals because Ratliff is out with a groin injury.

The Cowboys signed Brown to their practice squad Oct. 24, but he hasn’t been on the active roster. He was released from the Colts’ practice squad Oct. 20. Brown played in one game for the Colts, a loss to the New York Jets on Oct. 14.

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