Reports coming from Dallas indicate that in a post-game visit to the locker room in Cincinnati on Sunday, owner Jerry Jones touched a nerve and had a shouting match with nose tackle Jay Ratliff. What did Jones say to spark such outrage from one of his players?
“We need you.”
Jones was referring, of course, to the loss of tackle Josh Brent – incarcerated for vehicular manslaughter the night before.
Ratliff began the season as starting nose tackle, and Jones was no doubt also making a reference to Ratliff’s string of injuries which launched Brent into the starting lineup for so many games. In fact, Ratliff hadn’t played a game since Nov. 18, and he has missed seven games this season for a number of bumps, bangs and bruises. Taking obvious umbrage to Jones’s perceived slight, the two men had to be physically separated from each other. This is not the behavior a team needs after suffering the tragic loss of an aspiring practice squad player and the incarceration of his best friend for his death.
Brent, meanwhile, posted a half-million dollar bond on Sunday and walked out of jail. He was visibly shaken and had only this to say about his “situation:”
“Jerry Brown was my very best friend, and I’m just trying to deal with his death right now.”
Brown was Brent’s roommate, and the two forged a solid friendship while playing together at University of Illinois. Brent made the Big Leagues while Brown struggled in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. He later moved on to arena football, and he won a championship while playing for the Jacksonville Sharks.
His big moment came this season, when he was a last-minute cut from the Indianapolis Colts. He remained on the practice squad, though, and he was brought back to the active roster on Oct. 9. In his only game in the NFL, Brown was credited with two tackles in an Oct. 14 loss to the Jets. By Oct. 20, the Colts cut Brown.
Brent did some talking in Dallas, and soon the Cowboys signed him to their practice squad. Things were looking good. With an expectant wife, new NFL team and best friend as a roommate, Brown was working hard to see his dreams come true.
And then tragedy struck at the hands of the same buddy who got him his newest job.
The same friend who he undoubtedly was out with, having a few drinks and sharing stories of their Glory Days in Illinois.