LOS ANGELES, December 8, 2012 – Another tragedy has shaken the National Football League and has fans lamenting “Please, no. Not again. No. God no.”
Only one week after the tragic murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher the Dallas Cowboys have a nightmare involving one dead player and another one with a life that is completely wrecked.
At some point fans want to just shut their eyes and watch football. Living in denial allows for an exciting stretch run of games.
The death of human beings forces us to live in the real world.
These deaths were needless, and another black eye for the National Football League. When Saturday began, both nose tackle Josh Brent and defensive end Jerry Brown were scheduled to play in the Dallas Cowboys game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Brown had just been elevated from the practice squad, and had just gotten his chance a week earlier on the big stage.
Now Brown will never play football again and Brent most likely will not either. Normally there is a call for caution as everyone waits for the facts to come in. This time it seems the details are already apparent.
At 2:30am on Saturday morning, Mr. Brent was driving his Mercedes at a high speed in Irving Texas, just outside of Dallas. He had alcohol in his system and would flunk a sobriety test. Once the car crash came, the automobile caught fire. While police officers came to the scene and put out the fire, they could not save the man in the passenger seat.
Mr. Brown is gone forever, taken from this world at twenty-five years old. Mr. Brent has been charged with intoxicated manslaughter, which carries a prison sentence in Texas from two to twenty years.
Circumstances do not favor a light sentence for Mr. Brent. He is a repeat offender, and a recent one at that. In 2009 he pleaded guilty to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and was sentenced to sixty days in jail plus two years of probation.
He completed his probation successfully in 2011, but December of 2012 has rendered that meaningless. Now he has taken a life.
This tragedy actually magnifies the Jovan Belcher situation from last a week earlier. That situation caused people to try and blame guns for the tragedy. Some people even wanted to ban football. The Josh Brent debacle has nothing to do with guns or football. This involved the all too common combination of fast cars, excessively high speeds, and excessive alcohol.
Fast cars are not going to be banned. Excessively high speeds are already illegal. The word is called “excessive” for a reason. Prohibition of alcohol failed once and will not be brought back again.
The very worst part of this situation brought on by Mr. Brent is that it will happen again. Alcohol is a drug, and deaths from alcohol and drugs keep happening because too many people think they are immune. The worst possible situation happens to “others.”
In 1986, the National Basketball Association was rocked with the cocaine overdose death of Boston Celtics star draftee Len Bias. Yet only eight days later, Cleveland Browns safety Don Rogers also died in the same manner. Even worse, Don Rogers died the day before his wedding.
This is the second time the Dallas Cowboys have faced this situation in the last decade. In 2003, cornerback Dwayne Goodrich drove recklessly and killed two innocent people. He was released from prison in 2011.
This is before even getting to the players who do not drink or speed, but refuse to wear seat belts. Stacey Toran and Derrick Thomas both left this world too soon because they would not take basic safety measures that children are taught from their first days in school. Of course it is terrible they are gone, but we should be angry they left us the way they did.
The eeriest aspect of this is that Jerry Brown’s given name was Jerome Brown. He was not related to the late Philadelphia Eagles defensive standout Jerome Brown, who died himself in 1992 when the car he was driving at a high speed spun out of control and killed him and his nephew.
America does not need a campaign against murder-suicide. Those tragedies, by the grace of God, are rare. Yet driving while drunk or in a drug-induced state is horrifyingly common. There is no stigma to it. Normally first offenses are treated lightly because “everybody does it.”
Driving at unsafe speeds is taken even more lightly. No, everybody does not do it. Selfish people do it. While the loss of Jerry Brown is terrible, he had to know what he was getting into when he stepped in his teammate’s car. Of course Mr. Brown did not deserve to die, but he took a terrible risk and paid the ultimate price. His death should anger people because it never had to happen.
So while we grieve for Mr. Brown and show mixed emotions about Mr. Brent, some of us will just shut down. We have had enough of needless deaths. We have had it with drinking and driving. We have had it with people thinking that fast cars and easy money come without responsibilities.
So maybe shutting down and blocking it out is the right thing for some of us to do. Enough is enough. We can’t force people to value their lives and care more than we do.
So while we should all pray for the family and loved ones of Jerry Brown, those suffering from tragedy fatigue should be forgiven. At some point numbness sets in. Escapism seems to be the only answer for some of us. For me and others, football is that escapism. So here is the NFL 2012 Week 14 preview, as we try to find some light in a game where repeated dark incidents have targeted the NFL shield.
Denver Broncos (10) @ Oakland Raiders was the Thursday night game.
(Broncos win but fail to cover)
St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills (3)
(Upset special, Rams win outright)
Atlanta Falcons (3.5) @ Carolina Panthers
Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals (3.5)
(Upset special, Cowboys win outright)
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns (7)
(Browns win but fail to cover)
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (5.5)
(Colts win but fail to cover)
New York Jets (3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
(Upset special, Jaguar win outright)
Chicago Bears (3) @ Minnesota Vikings
(Upset special, Vikings win outright)
San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8)
(Steelers win but fail to cover)
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7.5)
(Buccaneers win but fail to cover)
Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins (2.5)
(Upset special, Ravens win outright)
Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers (11)
(49ers win but fail to cover)
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (5)
(Giants win but fail to cover)
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (10)
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (7) is the Sunday night game.
(Packers win but fail to cover)
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (3.5) is the Monday night game.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” When not watching football, his only other hobby is Republican, Jewish women. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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