DALLAS — Jason Garrett gave the Dallas Cowboys a day off after his players pulled off a win in Cincinnati while reeling from a one-car accident that killed one teammate and landed another in jail.
Many players showed up at team headquarters anyway and there was Josh Brent, the hulking defensive tackle who missed the trip after police say he was driving drunk and caused the wreck that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, his close friend and roommate.
And Brent was back with his teammates again Tuesday for a private memorial honoring Brown. Players and team officials left without talking to reporters after the hour-long service on a chilly afternoon at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, but Garrett had made it clear that Brent was still a part of the Cowboys family.
“We’re going to support Josh 100 percent in every way that we can,” Garrett said Monday, a day after the Cowboys beat the Bengals 20-19 with a field goal on the final play to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Brent arrived at the service earlier than most of the Cowboys players, team executives and staff members. He was in a van with several other people and could be seen hugging Brown’s mother before walking into the building. Brent was one of the last to leave, too. He grew close to Brown during three seasons together at the University of Illinois, and took in Brown when the Cowboys added the 25-year-old to the roster in October.
“It’s a really, really difficult situation for him,” Garrett said. “We want to make him feel that there are people around him who can help him get through this thing day by day.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had “no issues” with Brent being at team facilities while the manslaughter case against him works its way through the courts. Pittsburgh visits Dallas on Sunday in another game with playoff implications for both teams.
Police in suburban Irving say Brent was speeding when his vehicle struck a curb and flipped early Saturday, hours before Brent was supposed to be on the team flight to Cincinnati. Brown was taken to a Dallas hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County medical examiner said he died after suffering blunt force trauma to his head and neck.
Belcher wake held
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life earlier this month, was laid out Tuesday in an open silver casket surrounded by flowers and displays of family snapshots at a church where hundreds of mourners gathered at a wake to remember him.
The wake, to be followed by a funeral today, was held at the Upper Room Christian World Center in Dix Hills, east of New York City and a few miles north of the West Babylon home where the 25-year-old Belcher was raised. A woman answering the telephone at the center’s office earlier Tuesday said she had no information on details of the funeral but noted members of the center’s clergy weren’t expected to participate.