- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The latest on the Dallas Cowboys/Josh Brent sideline controversy is this report from our man Ed Werder that Brent will not be permitted on the sideline during Cowboys games for the remainder of this season, now that the people in charge of those decisions are actually making them:
The Cowboys and officials in the NFL's offices were unaware that Brent -- who is on the reserve/non-football injury list after being charged with intoxication manslaughter two weeks ago in the car crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown -- would be on the sideline Sunday during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas. Both the team and the league agree that it was not appropriate, sources said....
Several of Brent's teammates urged him to attend Sunday's game, but coach Jason Garrett, who spoke to Brent the day before the game, didn't know about it until pregame warm-ups.
The game already had begun when Garrett realized Brent was on the sideline, and owner Jerry Jones didn't know until he saw Brent on television.
Garrett said Monday that Cowboys players were following the wishes of Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson.
According to sources, Brent went to the game somewhat reluctantly. He was driven by a teammate on injured reserve who told Brent that all of his teammates wanted him to be there. Once Brent became aware that his presence was sparking a national debate, he left Cowboys Stadium in the third quarter.
To be clear, and to answer some of the questions I have been asked since I wrote this column about this topic Monday: I do not believe this decision represents any shirking of the Cowboys' duties as Brent's friends and colleagues to watch out for him during a difficult time. I also do not think they should ignore said responsibility. Brent is being charged with a crime, and a very serious one that resulted in the death of his friend and teammate, but that does not mean he should be an outcast or a pariah, or that his friends should turn their backs on him. There are 168 hours in a week, and the Dallas Cowboys play football for three of them. That leaves 165 in which they can feel free to offer Brent any kind of support they believe he needs.
But to have the guy stand there with his teammates for those three nationally televised hours, as though he were on injured reserve with a shoulder injury or something like that, sent the wrong message about the seriousness with which the Cowboys were treating Brent's situation. And since drunk driving is a crime that's not taken seriously enough by society in general, I believe that was a mistake. It appears from Ed's reporting that the Cowboys and even Brent are in agreement, and that in the end the correct move is being made. No one did anything horribly wrong here. The Cowboys' players aren't PR executives in charge of considering the way a move like this will be perceived nationally. And while you could argue that Garrett and/or Jones should have known in advance, it appears as though they acted both correctly and compassionately once the situation came to their attention. Tough circumstances all around.
I wish Josh Brent no ill will and never intended to pile on the grief and anguish he is already undoubtedly feeling. My point was about the way the Cowboys present themselves to the outside world, and when you operate an NFL football team, that has to matter.