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The Dallas Cowboys franchise history is chock full of big names. From beloved quarterbacks like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to less popular figures like Jerry Jones, there hasn’t been any shortage of characters in Big D. Football fans, however, will remember Jerry Brown and Josh Brent’s names for another, more tragic reason.

In 2012, Brown joined the Dallas Cowboys as a practice squad player. While he showed potential and could have made it onto the active roster, he tragically died due to a teammate’s terrible decision.

Jerry Brown took an unconventional road to the Dallas Cowboys

As a football fan, it’s easy to assume that every athlete follows the same path, moving from high school to college, before landing in the NFL. Jerry Brown, however, did things a bit differently.

After playing his high school ball in St. Louis, Brown headed to the University of Illinois and suited up for the Illini. While he showed potential during spring football, the linebacker never made much of an impact at the college level; as documented by USA Today, Brown had academic issues and left the team after two seasons as a bit-part player.

Without much of a college resume, Brown didn’t land an NFL job after the 2011 draft. He ended up in the Arena Football League, instead. After one season there, he joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, but failed to make the team; he then returned to the AFL for another season.

During 2012, Brown tried out for a handful of teams ultimately ending up on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. After getting cut in October, he quickly the Dallas Cowboys organization. He joined their practice squad, hoping to play his way onto the roster.

Josh Brent’s bad decision cost his teammate his life

It seemed like things were moving in the right direction for Jerry Brown. He was proving himself on the Dallas practice squad and had a friend and former college teammate, tackle Josh Brent, in the organization. Things, however, would end in tragedy.

On December 7, 2012, Brown and Brent headed to a night club called Beamers. As recounted by the Dallas Morning News, Brent had some champagne and cognac; while he wasn’t sure exactly how much he had to drink, he left the club intoxicated. That would set the stage for a tragic accident.

“According to Irving police, Brent’s car was traveling at a high rate of speed on a State Highway 114 service road before it hit the outside curb at approximately 2:30 a.m,” an ESPN report explained. “The car flipped at least one time and skidded an estimated 900 feet before coming to rest in the middle of the service road, police said.”

Jerry Brown died that morning. As reported by USA Today, Josh Brent was eventually found guilty of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation.

Jerry Brown’s family forgave Josh Brent for the tragic accident

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Given the tragic circumstances of Jerry Brown’s death, it would have been easy for his family to blame Josh Brent. Instead, they took the high road.

“I’ve forgiven him, because he has enough on his plate with just reliving the whole thing over and over, and that’s going to be for the rest of his life,” Stacy Jackson, Brown’s mother, said according to Fox Sports. “Jerry would frown down on me if I did that, because that’s not the way I raised him.”

Brown’s grandmother, Theresa Clark, also made a similar statement. “If anybody should be mad, we should be mad. But we’re not mad,” she explained. “That boy loved him. That was his friend. It was just an accident.”

While every unnecessary death is tragic, those statements add another layer of pain to the story of Josh Brent and Jerry Brown. The two friends were in a position to succeed together; a bad decision, though, changed things forever.


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