By Clarence Hill Jr
Arlington _ Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, facing an intoxication manslaughter charge for his role in the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown in a car wreck last December, has decided to retire from the NFL.
The Cowboys announced the news Thursday morning, one day before the team was to leave for training camp in Oxnard, Ca on Friday.
"This is the right decision for me, and something that I have given a lot of thought to. I am at a point where my main focus is all about getting the priorities in my life in order," Brent said in a statement.
"Those priorities are more important than football. Doing the right things in life are more important than football. I love the game very much. I love my teammates, but this is the right thing for me to do."
Brent's trail is Sept. 23 and he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, though he could get probation. The retirement has no impact on the criminal case. But it could indicate to the judge that he is trying to get his life together after a few recent setbacks.
Brent, 25, has since tested positive for marijuana twice while on bond, prompting the judge to revoke his bail. He was released from jail earlier this month.
Agent Peter Schaefer said Brent has been through a lot, considering that Brown was his best friend, and he is trying to put his life in the proper order and get his priorities straight.
“It’s absolutely what’s important,” Schaefer said. “I don’t think people realize how devastating this was for everybody involved. This is a tragedy on so many different levels. It’s a lot of stuff going on with Josh mentally. He is dealing with grief and depression. It was a mature decision on his part to his priorities about life in the proper order. You got to give him credit.”
The Cowboys have been supportive of Brent through out the process because of those were the wishes of Jerry Brown's mother. Owner Jerry Jones acknowledged that was one reason Brent was kept on the Cowboys roster.
Jones remains supportive now that Brent is retiring.
"I think that In My mind it speaks for itself," Jones said. "He basically wants to concentrate on where he should be concentrating on his life. This allows him in my mind to do that. I know from the standpoint of technical loyalty to the club, NFL it does all the things that give him an opportunity to get his life straightened around and go from there."
Said coach Jason Garrett: "Josh really needs to get his life in order. Football is important to a lot of us. It's important to Josh. There are other things that are more important. That's what he needs to do right now for himself. “It’s a good decision. He has got to take it one day at a time to get his life back together and get himself going."
What the retirement also does is allow Brent to avoid being suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, per the league's personal conduct policy. The NFL had planned to rule on Brent's status this weekend and likely suspend him for a year.
Now that he has retired, the NFL will not take any action on his case, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.
With a court date set for Sept. 23, Brent, age 25, was not going to play in 2013 _ even if he was acquitted. Now he gets to get his legal issues taken care of and serve whatever time he gets. He then could conceivably come out of retirement in a year or two with the Cowboys still retaining his rights.
Garrett said it’s premature to talk about the future and Schaefer said football is not Brent's concern right now.
"That is not even part of the discussion," Schaefer said of Brent coming out of retirement in the future. "Our top priority is making sure Josh does the right things for himself, for Jerry's family and his family, take care of his problems and make himself a better person."
Brent played three seasons for the Cowboys, recording 65 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five pressures, one pass breakup and one forced fumble in 39 career games with five starts. He was originally selected in the seventh-round of the 2010 Supplemental Draft out of Illinois.