Fletcher Cox knows better than anybody what his close friend and teammate Derek Barnett is going through right now.
Barnett’s older brother David was killed by an alleged drunk driver near Nashville on Tuesday. A local man was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide by intoxication. David Barnett was 33.
On Jan. 12, 2015, Fletcher Cox’s older brother, Shaddrick “Trell” Cox Sr., suffered a heart attack and died. He was 34.
Cox has spoken often about his brother and how he motivated him to greatness before and after his death.
He said he’ll be sure to share his thoughts with Barnett as soon as he rejoins the team.
“I texted him, we all reached out to him, he’s with his family right now, but I told him stay strong and from my perspective, from understanding, from what I’ve been through, people always tell me that it’ll get better and for me it doesn’t. It’s the truth. I just told him to just stay strong for his family. I know the pain of losing a brother, and when you come back we’ll talk about it.”
This is a close-knit team and the defensive line room in particular is very close. Cox had just turned 24 when his brother was killed. Barnett is still only 22. Both are former first-round picks, Cox in 2012, Barnett in 2017.
Cox said it’s therapeutic to come to the NovaCare Complex and be with his teammates and focus on football, and he'll share whatever experiences he's had that he feels can help Barnett cope with this tragedy.
“There’s ways to kind of get it off your mind, and for me the biggest thing is get it off my mind when I come here," Cox said. "I know he’s looking down on me, and I go out and play for him I every time I get a chance to go play.”
Derrick Barnett had 5.0 sacks as a rookie last year and 2 ½ this year before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against the Vikings on Oct. 7.