The family and friends of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown had stayed out of the public eye for the most part since the Saturday morning car accident that took Brown's life and put the driver, Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent, in jail on intoxication manslaughter charges. That changed Monday, and the results were captivating. On Tuesday, Brent attended Brown's funeral at Dallas' Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, where team chaplain Tony Evans serves as pastor. He did so with Brown's family because Brown's family is capable of stunning gestures of love and forgiveness.
Released on $500,000 bond on Sunday, Brent visited the team facility on Monday, was checked out by trainers, and spoke to head coach Jason Garrett, who said that Brent was "very distraught." The entire Cowboys organization also attended the service.
"What we want to do as an organization, as players, as coaches and this entire organization is let him know he should feel supported everywhere he turns," Garrett said of Brent on Monday. "That's what we want to express to him. It's a very challenging situation for him. He and Jerry are best friends. They have known each other since college. They were very close in college, very close since they've been here together, and it's a really, really difficult situation for him. We want to make him feel that there are people around him who can help him get through this thing day by day."
Stacey Jackson, Brown's mother, accelerated that generosity of spirit to an entirely new level. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent his own plane so that Brown's family could arrive in Dallas for the service, and Jackson asked that Brent meet the family at the airport, ride with her to the service, and sit with the family while Brown was remembered.
"I was upset, but I realized that our youth today are young and stupid, and we were all once that age, and we've all done things we're not proud of," Jackson said on Monday's "Piers Morgan Tonight" show on CNN. "I realized that everyone thinks they're invincible, and everyone thinks, 'it's not going to happen to me.' I know Josh Brent, and he's been part of our family since Jerry went to the University of Illinois -- all I can do is to pray for him and his family. I know [Brent] is hurting just as much as we are, because [he] and Jerry were like brothers."
According to Jerry Jones, Jackson "wanted to be right with Josh and to express in every way she could how much they loved him and thought of him, and didn't want to have him grieve for his loss as a friend without being included in their family."
"It's so tragic when you think about that they were best friends," Jones said on a local radio station, when recalling Brent's feelings about Brown joining the Cowboys. "Josh was elated when Jerry came on the team because they were such good friends and teammates in college. Josh, of course, was on the regular team and consequently had a place to live. Jerry was on the practice squad and there's quite a difference in the economics that they make, so Jerry was living with Josh on Josh's generosity. Those guys were on the way to their house when this accident happened. It's so, so tragic for everybody involved."
Nobody is excusing what Brent did, and we don't know all the details just yet. What is remarkable about the story so far is how willing those closest to Jerry Brown are to forgive, and to open their hearts to Josh Brent when many others would not. From a human perspective, and leaving everything else out of the picture for the moment, it's fairly amazing.
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