Josh Brent back in NFL picture
Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, a former Illini and News-Gazette All-Stater from Bloomington Central Catholic, is being allowed to return to the NFL, though he won’t play right away.
The NFL on Tuesday outlined a series of conditions Brent must meet to be eligible to play when the Cowboys return from their bye week in November.
Brent retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication manslaughter death of teammate Jerry Brown, another former Illini and a practice squad linebacker for the Cowboys. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.
The league says Brent will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season and can’t participate in team activities for the first six weeks. He won’t be allowed to visit the team’s practice facility for the first six weeks except to meet with people associated with his rehab.
The 26-year-old Brent must have “no further adverse involvement with law enforcement” and faces potential banishment for what the league called “prohibited alcohol-related conduct.”
Brent can start attending meetings and doing individual workouts in Week 7, but can’t practice or travel with the team. He can begin practicing two weeks after that.
If he meets all the conditions, Brent’s first possible game is Nov. 23 at the New York Giants.
Brent crashed his Mercedes sedan on a suburban Dallas highway on the way back from a nightclub in December 2012. Brown was in the passenger’s seat. Witnesses recalled seeing Brent trying to pull Brown, his former teammate at Illinois and his roommate in Texas, from the wreckage of the vehicle.
Tests later showed Brent to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Texas.
Brent faced up to 20 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter, and prosecutors pressed hard for prison time, saying his case would send a message to other would-be drunken drivers. But Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, testified she had forgiven Brent and that “you can’t go on in life holding a grudge.”
The Cowboys open the season Sunday at home against San Francisco with many questions about their defense, including the rotation among defensive linemen. They are trying to replace franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware, who was released during the offseason in a salary cap move.
Brent was mostly a backup in three seasons with Dallas but was starting in place of the injured Jay Ratliff at the time of the crash.