Josh Brent was drunk when he flipped his car, killing teammate and friend Jerry Brown. So it created a little mental dissonance to see him on the sidelines at Cowboys Stadium just a week later, cheering on Dallas during their win over Pittsburgh. Now it comes out that owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett didn't know he was going to be there.
Several of the Cowboys players called Brent and implored him to come to the game. They wanted him there. Since Brent is on the non-football illness list, he can show up at any time before the game like a player on injured reserve and gain access.
Owner Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones and head coach Jason Garrett weren't aware that Brent was going to be at the game until they saw him on the sidelines. Brent eventually left the game once he realized he was being a distraction.
It's a slightly less polarizing version of the controversy about the Chiefs' tributes to Jovan Belcher—how do you appropriately support a friend when they've done something very bad? In this case, the support for Brent has been overwhelming from every side. When the Cowboys flew Brown's mother in for his funeral, she requested that Brent pick her up at the airport. And it was the players who wanted Brent there yesterday—he's still a teammate.
After the fact, Jerry Jones defended Brent's presence, citing Brown's mother's example.
"Our team and our players wanted him today on the sideline," Jones said. "Jerry's mother asked us directly as a group. She said, ‘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."
Jones seems oddly OK with a major decision being made without his input or knowledge, though it seems Brent's status meant he was free to show up unless specifically told not to. Brent's presence is only a distraction if the Cowboys get distracted by it—Boomer Esiason called it "disgraceful," but I'm sure they don't care what Boomer Esiason says. But all that support will only mean so much when Brent stands trial for intoxication manslaughter, a charge that carries a sentence of two to 20 years.