Mon December 10, 2012
NFL Copes With Another Tragedy
Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 4:47 am
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And let's turn now to something that is often a topic of conversation on Monday morning: football. For a second straight week, the world of football is coping with a tragedy. The Dallas Cowboys won a thriller yesterday, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 20-19 on a last-second field goal, and that really kept their playoff hopes alive. But the Cowboys' celebration was filled with tears as well. The day before, two Dallas players were involved in a one-car accident. One of the players was killed. The driver, his teammate, was arrested for drunk driving. And this comes on the heels of last week's murder-suicide involving a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Joining me now, NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. And Tom, what can you tell us about this accident that killed Dallas linebacker Jerry Brown?
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: It happened early Saturday, David. A car driven by Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent went out of control. Jerry Brown, 25-year-old practice squad player, died in the accident. Brown joined the Cowboys just in late October. And the two men were very good friends. They played college football together at Illinois. Brent, who is 24, was released from jail on a half million dollars bond. He is charged with intoxication manslaughter. If convicted, it could mean up to 20 years in prison.
GREENE: Wow. And as I just mentioned, I mean this follows the murder-suicide last weekend of Chief linebacker Jovan Belcher. I mean what is going on? Is this just tragic coincidence or is this something the NFL should be worried about?
GOLDMAN: Well, you know, the Belcher case, although tragically extreme, wasn't the first domestic violence incident in the NFL by far, nor was the Cowboys tragedy the first case of alleged drunk driving. The NFL is aware of the problems. After the suicide of former star player Junior Seau earlier this year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell started a 24-hour hotline and ramped up the league's mental health efforts for players. But with these two tragic incidents on back-to-back weekends, undoubtedly there will be calls for the league and for teams to do even more.
GREENE: Well, the games did go on, despite all of that. And of course there's one more NFL game tonight, and that is New England hosting the incredible Houston Texans. What are we expecting?
GOLDMAN: What about the incredible New England Patriots? They've got a great offense to go against the incredible Houston Texans' defense, so something's got to give. I'm not going to predict which side will give, but it's going to be a great game.
GREENE: And the big college news, Tom, over the weekend? A first in the Heisman Trophy presentation.
GOLDMAN: A first, yes. We have our first freshman, Johnny Manziel, a Texas A&M quarterback - Johnny Football, as he's called. The first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Very exciting player to watch. You wonder how good he can get if he stays in college another three years. He set the Southeastern Conference record with 4,600 yards gained rushing and passing. He led the Aggies to a season-defining upset of Alabama, which was number one at the time. Of course Notre Dame fans, they were rooting for their great senior linebacker Manti Te'o, who finished second in the voting. And they comforted themselves a bit by noting at least Te'o doesn't have a mugshot that made the rounds on the Internet, as Manziel did. He was arrested in June for fighting in public and then showing police fake ID. Manziel, obviously, prefers the photos from this weekend of him holding the Heisman Trophy.
GREENE: From the Heisman. You win the Heisman freshman year, I mean where do you go from there?
GOLDMAN: To the professional ranks. The question is when.
GREENE: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Thanks, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.