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June 17, 2014

Cowboys want Josh Brent to focus on rehabilitation before talking about a return to football

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was released from jail on Sunday following his conviction for a drunken car crash that killed his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown, and will finish his 180-day sentence at a rehab facility.

A judge ordered Brent to spend at least 45 days in a residential facility for substance abuse as part of his sentence of 10 years of probation.

Brent's release on Sunday has only increased speculation about a possible return to football.

Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett quashed talk about Brent coming back to the Cowboys, saying he needs to focus on rehabilitation before even thinking about football.

"I think the biggest thing with Josh right now is to get his life back in order," Garrett said. "He's gone to the next phase of this process that he's in. He's in a rehab center now and any talk about him coming back to play football is way, way premature. He needs to kind of get his life straight, get his life in order and any discussion about his return is really a conversation between him and the league. We'll certainly continue to support him like we always have. But he needs to get his life squared away first. Those conversations are way premature."

Jones said the league has already begun the process of evaluating Brent, but Brent first must prove himself in completing his program. Then, Commissioner Roger Goodell would have to decide whether Brent will have any additional punishment. 

Brent has already missed an entire season of football because of alcohol-related accident that killed Brown, with Brent having retired from football.

"I hope you will appreciate why I don’t want to be speculating about if, because his process of reinstatement is one that really needs for him to have the advantage, or not have the disadvantage, of speculating on the Cowboys part," Jones said. "The No. 1 thing the league is interested in right now is his rehabilitation. No. 2, the league is in the business of when somebody has rehabbed, when they have paid whatever penalties they are, then the league is in a position to want them to come back and play. So I’m relying on that. But he’s got to show where he is in his rehab process which is continuing and to some degree, another stage is happening right now. He’s got to show that. Plus he’s got to be evaluated through what has happened for him in the last couple of years. He hasn’t played, so he’s paid quite a penalty already by now having played over the last couple of years, just from that perspective.”

Brent, 26, was convicted in January of intoxication manslaughter for the December 2012 crash that killed Jerry Brown, a Cowboys practice squad player. Tests 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 but was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years' probation largely because of the support of Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, who testified she had forgiven Brent and asked for leniency.

 Clarence Hill

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