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Cowboys involved in fatal wreck close friends

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Cowboys involved in fatal wreck close friends

IRVING, Texas (AP) Josh Brent and Jerry Brown met in college, forming a close, unshakeable bond. Having realized his NFL dream, Brent was trying to help his roommate do the same.

But Brent wasn't starting on Dallas' defensive line when the Cowboys kicked off in Cincinnati on Sunday. He was in jail, accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal accident in the Dallas suburb of Irving.

And Brown, who'd just landed a spot on the Cowboys' practice squad, wasn't watching the Cowboys' 20-19 victory over the Bengals. He was the 25-year-old passenger in Brent's car, which struck a curb and flipped in the pre-dawn hours Saturday.

Brown, an expectant father, had promised his family that he would play professional football full-time, his grandmother said.

``He lived for football,'' Theresa Clark, 63, of St. Louis, told The Associated Press on Sunday. ``He loved it with all his heart.''

Brent, a 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound nose guard, was arrested at the scene of the accident Saturday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a charge upped to intoxication manslaughter after Brown died.

Attorney George Milner complained that Brent's $500,000 bond was set ``16 times higher than it would have been for anybody that doesn't play for the Dallas Cowboys.'' He said the bond amount was more than the Cowboys authorized him to post and wasn't sure when his client would be released.

The two athletes' friendship, which blossomed during their three seasons at the University of Illinois, was obvious to those who knew them.

``You can't get any tighter than those two,'' Milner said, crossing his index and middle fingers. ``It was the closest family he had was Jerry Brown.''

The circumstances surrounding Brown's death didn't change his family's view of their relationship, either.

``I'm quite sure that Jerry thought the world of him and respected that young man,'' Clark said of Brent.

According to a probable cause affidavit released Sunday by Irving police, officers said they detected ``a moderate odor of alcohol'' from Brent's breath and that he ``admitted to consuming alcohol at a club,'' but wouldn't identify which one. Police said Brent gave a blood sample at the hospital on Saturday.

Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson of Champaign, Ill., confirmed Brown's final Facebook post from Nov. 29, in which he wrote that he was expecting a child and ``how the fast life isn't as fun as it use to be after living it for so long.''

``She will be here in two more months,'' Jackson said of Brown's baby daughter. ``She is going to be well loved. I have scrapbooks and everything to show her what type of father she had.''

Clark saw Brown about four or five months ago, but spoke with him frequently via Facebook.

``I have 20 grandchildren and Jerry is the oldest,'' Clark said. ``They all looked up to him. They praised him. They were all really upset and crying. They are going to miss their big cousin. He was one in a million.''

The accident happened hours before Brent was to be on a team flight to Cincinnati. Before Sunday's game, the Bengals held a moment of silence before the national anthem. Most Cowboys bowed their heads, and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and several other players had their hands over their hearts.

On Fox's NFL Sunday pregame show, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team had focused on Brown's death in the ``last few hours.'' He didn't mention Brent.

``First of all we all know, but we remind ourselves that there is something more important than football, and this is life, and certainly the lost life of Jerry,'' Jones said. ``On the other hand, they know the best way they can honor Jerry, because he was such a hard worker, so conscientious and enthusiastic about his career.''

It marked the second straight week the NFL found itself dealing with a tragedy right before gameday.

Last Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before killing himself in front of his coach and general manager. The 25-year-old Belcher shot himself in the parking lot at the team's practice complex at Arrowhead Stadium.

In 2009, Brent pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation, according to court records.

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AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati and AP writers Sara Burnett and Michelle Janaye Nealy in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Redskins Free Agency Report Card: Offense fails to add difference-maker

Redskins Free Agency Report Card: Offense fails to add difference-maker

Ever since Ron Rivera took over as the Redskins head coach in early January, he has preached finding the core players on the roster in order to turn the culture around. But if the first wave of free agency proved one thing, it's that it takes a lot more than just a shakeup in the front office and a new head coach to change a culture. 

Rivera inherited an offense that played multiple rookies a season ago. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin has already established himself as a stud, while both Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon have shown promise. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had his growing pains in 2019 but started to finally put things together as the season concluded.

But as a whole, the Redskins offense from a year ago was really bad. They averaged just 16.6 points per game, dead last in the NFL. Only the New York Jets averaged fewer yards per game than the Burgundy and Gold.

The Redskins knew that entering free agency, the team would need to add difference-makers on offense. Someone who could help Haskins grow as a passer, but also change the entire dynamic of the offense. They tried twice, but swung and missed both times, and didn't appear to have much of a backup plan, which is why they earn a D grade on their offensive free agency report card.

On the first day of the legal tampering period, the Redskins attempted to pry away Amari Cooper from their rival Dallas Cowboys. Cooper, the best free agent wideout on the market, would have been an excellent fit in the Redskins offense. He's just 25 years old, an excellent route runner, and a go-to target for a young quarterback to look for. With McLaurin opposite him, the duo would have made a dangerous tandem on the outside.

In their first free agency together, Rivera and Redskins Senior VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith offered the four-time Pro Bowler a massive contract with even more money than the one Dallas put forward. They were ready to make a franchise-altering investment in Cooper and have him be the crown jewel of their first free agency class. But Cooper decided to stay put and signed a five-year deal with the Cowboys, citing the ability to contend for a championship right away.

After missing on Cooper, the Redskins didn't pursue any of the next tier free agent receivers, such as Emmanuel Sanders or Robby Anderson. Instead, the lone wideout Washington has signed in free agency is Cody Latimer. A former second-round pick, Latimer has never turned in a season with more than 25 catches or 300 yards. Sure, it's a low-risk signing, but nowhere near a game-changer the Redskins desperately need.

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Entering free agency, tight end was the position the Redskins arguably needed to upgrade the most; having a solid player at the position is crucial for a young, developing quarterback like Haskins. Washington released the oft-injured Jordan Reed this offseason and Vernon Davis retired, leaving a gaping hole at the position.

The Redskins were expected to be major players for Austin Hooper, the top tight end available. But the former Falcon agreed to a four-year deal with the Cleveland Browns just minutes after players could start negotiating with teams. A few days after signing with Cleveland, Hooper told SiriusXM that he was between the Browns and the Redskins and felt Cleveland offered a better chance to win.

After missing out on Hooper, the Redskins went shopping at the bargain bin once again, signing tight ends Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers each to a one-year deal. Over the past four seasons, Rodgers has a total of 43 catches for 438 yards. He's had multiple injuries, too, playing in just eight total games since 2017. Thomas is a converted quarterback-turned-tight-end who had a career-high 16 receptions a season ago.

The team has also added two running backs, J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber, to compete with Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and maybe Bryce Love.

Once again, these are all low-risk signings. Not a ton is expected from any of them, and almost any above-average production can be seen as a bonus. But for a team that desperately needed to find another game-changer on offense, none of these players have proven to be that guy yet in the pros.

The Redskins aren't going to contend for a Super Bowl in 2020, and Rivera knows that. Rebuilds take time, and Rivera has more than earned the respect to design Washington's rebuild the way he wants. 

But the head coach has preached finding guys who he believes will be core players for years to come. And after missing out on two of the teams top targets -- Cooper and Hooper -- the Redskins have likely not signed anyone on the offensive side of the ball that fits that category.

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For Capitals coach Todd Reirden and his immune-deficient son, the risks of coronavirus are all too real

For Capitals coach Todd Reirden and his immune-deficient son, the risks of coronavirus are all too real

With the NHL season on pause, the Capitals stand either on the precipice of the playoffs or the offseason. Either way, head coach Todd Reirden has to stay prepared. For now, however, the most important thing on his mind is the safety of his family. While he is not unique in that respect, the dangers presented by the spread of COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, are much more on Reirden's mind than it is for most people.

It can be hard to come to grips with the fact that the world is in the grips of a global pandemic. That has led to a lot of people downplaying the severity of the coronavirus.

"It's basically the flu."

"Only old people can get really sick."

"I'm low risk so I don't need to follow the guidelines."

Sometimes it is hard to realize how serious a situation can be without putting a face to it. For Reirden, however, putting a face to a situation like this one was not difficult at all because of his son, Travis.

"When first news came out of who was going to be most affected by this, obviously it was the elderly and people with compromised immune system and immediately Travis, who's now 17, goes to the top of that list," Reirden said in a conference call on Monday.

Travis has common variable immunodeficiency, a disorder he has had since birth. This disorder leaves his immune system unable to defend against bacteria and viruses.  Being a teenager on its own can be an ordeal, but Travis has had to face his teenage years with the uncertainty that comes with his disorder that is constantly affecting his health. Now with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, this is a very scary time for the Reirden family.

Ironically, during the early stages of the spread of the coronavirus, it may have been an illness that initially kept Travis out of harm's way.

"He was not in school, and it was a little bit of a fortunate break, for the prior month or more coming into this virus and the shutdown of everything," Reirden said. "He had gotten sick, had been tested, had the flu at the end of January. So for him, it takes him a little longer to fight off things. He got a little bit behind in school ...  and they’ve actually put him on a homebound plan, which means that we had a tutor coming to our house and working with him to get him caught up while he was continuing to not just be healthy but also rebuild up his immune system before he went back into the school system. And as he was getting caught up and everything was going good and he was feeling better and all set to go back to school, then there was talk of this coronavirus so we kept him at home."

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But keeping Travis at home was far from the only precaution the family had to take.

Since the spread of the coronavirus, health officials have advised everyone to wash their hands, avoid large groups and practice social distancing. The Reirdens now take this to a serious degree.

"We've really had to be careful about what we're bringing into the house and not leaving and making sure that if we do go out and do something, that we basically leave all of our clothes at the door and make sure that they get washed and wash our hands," Reirden said.

The tutor that was working with Travis is no longer able to come and he now has to do his schoolwork online instead.

Travis was also receiving plasma treatments from a nurse who would come into the family home to administer it to him for several hours. The family elected to forgo those treatments for the time being.

"It was our decision that we made that during this virus and shutdown time that it would not be a good idea to have someone coming into our house at this time," Reirden said. "And Travis felt that someone who had that type of specialization and health background that they should be out helping others who are going through this virus right now and if we could do it as long as we could and he was still feeling healthy then he would go without right now, without any treatments, unless there was an issue."

With the whole world on edge right now, all the added anxiety going through the Reirden household would be tough to take, but Reirden says Travis has approached it all with remarkable maturity.

Not only did he advocate discontinuing plasma treatments to free up the nurse to be used where they may be most needed, but he also has been able to keep things in perspective with his friends.

While his friends struggle to adapt to the current world of health precautions and social distancing, they are getting just a glimpse of how Travis has had to live his life.

“It’s interesting from his standpoint that he’s gone through a lot of these things kind of having to go through this type of deficiency that he has," Reirden said. "Some of his friends are going through now when they’re on Facetime or they’re talking and they’re like, ‘We can’t get together.’ Originally, you couldn’t get together with more than 10 people and those were all decision and you can’t be in groups, and you’ve got to be a little further away from people with social distancing. These are all things that [Travis] does on his own now. So, he’s found that interesting that now his friends are seeing a little bit of how his life has to go when he’s out in the public and the precautions he needs to take just because of the inability to fight off everything as easily as others."

So far, everyone has remained healthy through the pandemic, but this will continue to be nervous times for the Reirdens. While the coronavirus may not seem like a big deal to some, the Reirdens do not have the luxury of being so dismissive.

Said Reirden, "It certainly has made it a different situation in the Reirden household."

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