- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- As Jason Garrett stood behind the podium after the Cowboys’ 20-19 win against Cincinnati on Sunday, he took a brief moment to compose himself and then spoke for nearly six minutes about what the team went through since learning about the car accident that cost Jerry Brown his life and sent Josh Brent to jail.
For those who believe the coach is almost robotic in his answers, Garrett was filled with emotion, his voice raspy.
Here is what he said:
I told our team that this is unchartered territory and they obviously had a very difficult situation, a tragedy occur to our football team in the last couple days. We lost Jerry Brown, a practice roster player for us we picked up earlier in the year. It’s been really emotional for everybody, and as the head coach of the team I have to talk to the team and I have to inform them what happened, give them the news and also try to offer some perspective. You know I talked a lot about the value of a teammate and I’ve been fortunate to be on a lot of teams in my life. And I think that word teammate is really, really special, and Jerry is one of our teammates. He’s a really interesting guy. I spend a lot of time going around Valley Ranch, the halls, the meeting rooms, the practice fields, and I always say, ‘How we doing guys? How ya doing? How ya doing?’ Whoever it is, coaches, players, equipment guys, trainers and Jerry always beat me to the punch. Jerry always said, ‘How you doing, coach?’ before I could get it out.
And if you watched Jerry Brown practice you know that he loved football. He practiced so hard. He was here for one day and we said that’s going to be the Scout Team Player of the Week. He gave Tyron Smith and Doug Free and Jermey Parnell everything they could handle every snap that he was in there. He loved the game. He loved being part of our team and he showed it every day. And, uh, my memory is a big strapping guy with his bright smile on his face, bright eyes, bounce in his step every time I saw him. Twenty-five years old and he’s no longer with us. That’s hard for everybody to handle. Really hard. We found out about it yesterday morning. We told our team about it on the plane going up to Cincinnati and then we talked about it last night in our team meeting about what it all means. And football is very different than life. We try to make that very, very clear to our team. This is a life situation. We lost a 25-year-old young man who had his whole life in front of him, a teammate, a friend. It’s a real tragedy. All we asked our team last night was to understand as best they could what happened somehow someway to try to channel all the emotions they have into honoring Jerry today in their performance, and that’s a hard thing to do. I think everybody in our organization who knew him is completely numb and has been numb the last couple of days. And football is a game of emotion.
And with a lot of different emotions circulating we had to process it all and understand that life is different than football and that we had a job to do today. And that’s what I asked them to do. I did say this, I said, ‘You can learn a lot from playing this game. We’ve all played it since we were real young and a few of the things you learn I tried to share with them. I told them that it’s hard. It’s hard every time you break the huddle in the National Football League. You’re challenged like none other. If you’re not ready you’re going to have a hard time. I told them it takes everybody. It takes 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and 11 guys in the kicking game. It takes players and coaches. It takes all of us to have success in football, and I told them that the bonds of teammates are rare and special and they grow stronger and stronger and stronger over time and through adversity and that’s what we had. I wasn’t trying to make a football is life type comparison. I just asked them to learn from all the lessons that we all learn from football to try to handle the situation as best they can.
It was really, really challenging, so somehow, some way we had to come together all of us, 11 guys, coaches, players, everybody. We had come together and the bonds that we had as teammates had to get stronger. They were really strong for Jerry Brown. And I think everybody was really, really, really heartbroken. A young man who had everything ahead of him. We’re going to do everything we can to support his family. I spoke to his mom after the game and told her we gave her son the game ball and we’re going to share that with her. We’re going to have a memorial service Tuesday and we’re going to continue to honor Jerry Brown and the young man he has been. It’s not an easy time for anybody. In reality we’re going to snap back into it in what we lost. It’s not easy. I’m very proud of our football team. Somehow, someway they did find a way to channel the emotion that we had. I think there was a feeling of numbness out on the field today but somehow they focused it and we figured out a way to win this ballgame. I thought we honored him as well as he could be honored. This is a day I’m never going to forget. Its’ a tragic day for all of us. I’m never going to forget how this football team came together and honored Jerry Brown and his family. We’ll continue to mourn his loss. We’ll continue to miss him, and we’ll never forget about him.