The night before they were set to hop on a charter flight to Cincinnati to play the Bengals, Dallas Cowboy and former University of Illinois teammates decided to hit the town. After allegedly drinking to the point of intoxication, the Cowboy’s starting nose tackle, Josh Brent, made the extremely poor decision to drive them both home. The result: Brent’s best friend and teammate is dead at the age of 25 and Brent is charged with intoxication manslaughter.
This tragedy comes only a week after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend and committed suicide. The NFL world is still reeling from Belcher’s actions and now it must grasp Saturday’s disaster. The double-whammy of NFL tragedy on consecutive weekends has left many people shaking their heads at the waste wrought by what appears to be more irresponsible behavior.
It is even more troubling when you consider this is Brent’s 2nd DUI in less than four years, a clear sign that he did not learn his lesson. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to a DUI charge after an arrest while playing at the University of Illinois. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 200 hours of community service and two years probation. He also was ordered to attend a victim’s impact panel.
Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, Brent could be sentenced to at least two years in prison with a maximum of 20 years, plus a maximum fine of $10,000.
The NFL Players Association offers a safe-ride program to all players, the phone number of which is provided to each player on his union card. The service is available anywhere in the United States or Canada, with an hourly fee of $85 paid by the player. There have been some concerns about privacy issues in the past, which is why the NFL stopped running the program a few years ago and instead let the union handle it.
An inebriated person who drives a car not only puts his or her life at risk, but also threatens the lives of those around, whether they are passengers or other motorists. In this case, Brent made a completely irresponsible decision by choosing to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
As the holidays approach, remember that the catastrophic outcomes of drunken driving can affect anyone. NFL football stars are no exception. Neither are you.
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