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Tragedy that befell Dallas Cowboys was preventable

With one teammate dead and another in jail, the Dallas Cowboys overcame their great grief to beat the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Thrilling come-from-behind victories are often packaged -- with shameless convenience -- as post-game morality tales. Not the case here. It was, in fact, a testament to a much-maligned team's fortitude.

The Cowboys lost two men when a Mercedes flipped after hitting a curb early Saturday. Linebacker Jerry Brown Jr. was D.O.A. at a local hospital. His best friend, nose tackle Josh Brent, was pulled from the burning wreckage, and charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The Cowboys have every right to feel sad, angry, conflicted. But the idea of a victory obscures the real issue. This isn't a morality tale. But there is a lesson.

For the second consecutive week, a player has died.

I can't give you the sociological and psychiatric explanations for domestic abuse or gun violence. But this? This is a DUI. This was preventable.

Teams have phone numbers players can call for a ride. The union offers the same thing, but fully confidential. Then, there's the old-fashioned way: Call a cab.

Obviously, it's not working. Or, at least, not working well enough.

By my unofficial count, 17 players have been arrested for drunk driving offenses this year, each one a potential fatality.

They include the prominent, the anonymous, the notorious. And some pretty good guys, I'm sure.

A first offense is punishable by a maximum $50,000 fine. The league wants to make it two games without pay, but apparently the union won't go along.

Two games? Really? That's not enough. Make it a year. Suspend players with troubled histories prior to adjudication. You'll see things change. Real fast.

I'm not arguing that players are any worse than the general population. I'm not excusing my own hypocrisy for driving when I shouldn't have. Or yours, after you chased down those wings with how many pitchers?

You're dealing with the most recalcitrant beings of all: young men; guys.

If the weakest among us feel invincible after a couple of beers, what about NFL players?

Don't ask me. Ask Josh Brent.

Follow Mark Kriegel on Twitter @MarkKriegel.

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