IRVING, Texas -- Josh Brent and Jerry Brown Jr. met in college, forming a close, unshakeable bond. Having realized his NFL dream, Brent was trying to help his roommate do the same.
But Brent wasn't starting on Dallas' defensive line when the Cowboys kicked off against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He was in jail, accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal accident that killed Brown, an expectant father who had just landed a spot on the Cowboys' practice squad.
About an hour after the grieving Cowboys secured an emotional 20-19 victory over the Bengals on the final play, a barefooted Brent slowly walked out of the jail in the Dallas suburb of Irving after his release on $500,000 bond. Surrounded by camera crews and reporters, Brent had several patches of missing hair and a bandage wrapped about his right hand.
"Jerry Brown was my very best friend, and I'm just trying to deal with his death right now," Brent said, stopping briefly when asked if he had anything to say to Brown's family. He didn't answer any other questions.
Brent, a 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound nose guard, was arrested at the scene of the accident Saturday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a charge that was upped to intoxication manslaughter after the 25-year-old Brown died.
"He is torn up," said George Milner, Brent's attorney. "It's not a good moment for anyone. I'm going to take him home. He needs family around him."
Brown had promised his family that he would play professional football full time, his grandmother said.
"He lived for football," Theresa Clark, 63, of St. Louis, told The Associated Press on Sunday. "He loved it with all his heart."
The two athletes' friendship, which blossomed during their three seasons at the University of Illinois, was obvious to those who knew them. Milner said Brown was living with Brent during the six weeks he spent with the Cowboys.
"You can't get any tighter than those two," Milner said, crossing his index and middle fingers. "It was the closest family he had was Jerry Brown."
According to a probable cause affidavit released Sunday by Irving police, officers said they detected "a moderate odor of alcohol" from Brent's breath and that he "admitted to consuming alcohol at a club," but wouldn't identify which one. Police said Brent gave a blood sample at the hospital on Saturday.
Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson of Champaign, Ill., confirmed Brown's final Facebook post from Nov. 29, in which he wrote that he was expecting a child with his girlfriend and "how the fast life isn't as fun as it use to be after living it for so long."
The accident happened hours before Brent was to be on a team flight to Cincinnati. The Bengals held a moment of silence before Sunday's game, and most Cowboys bowed their heads. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and several other players had their hands over their hearts. After the game, cornerback Brandon Carr was among the Cowboys players who were struggling to come to grips with Brown's death.
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said the team was planning a private memorial service for Tuesday in the Dallas area.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press