Naturally, there's some consternation regarding the possibility of the Dallas Cowboys signing Josh Brent, who only 18 months ago was involved in a drunk-driving accident that resulted in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. That's to be expected, especially since Brent is still behind bars, serving a 180-day sentence as a result of an intoxication manslaughter conviction in January.
Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said this week that the team would be open to bringing Brent back upon his release from custody, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. And the tough part about this is that there's no right answer. It'll rub some the wrong way, while others will argue that Brent has served his time and should now be free to gain employment in his field of expertise.
We often resort to that cliche about this being a business. And in this business, the Cowboys—who lost DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher in the offseason and may not be able to rely on Anthony Spencer—are in need of as much help as they can get along the defensive line.
But in this case, there is a legitimate emotional and moral discussion to be had.
But Brent was also arrested for drunk driving while playing college football at Illinois, and he failed two drug tests while awaiting trial last year. He'd be a questionable character signing even without Brown's tragic death factoring in, especially since he was never a proven player in the first place.
He was a Cowboy three seasons, starting five games in 2012 and recording a total of 44 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 39 appearances. During that final season, he did earn the sixth-best grade on the team from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), but it's not as though he's the type of player who will put this defense over the top.
If they deem him valuable on the field, should the Cowboys sign Josh Brent?
Of course, there's also a chance that Brent, who technically retired last summer, could face further discipline from the league. The team has reached out to the NFL on that subject, according to Jones.
"It's a work in progress," Jones said, per Watkins. "Obviously they're looking at it and we'll kind of see how it goes. Obviously he sat out a year and the bigger thing is Josh has got to see where his priorities are. There's a lot of things that have got to be determined there."
That further complicates things. It's a touchy subject and we're still, at a minimum, several weeks away from having to face a potential reunion between the two parties.
Regardless, if the Cowboys do sign him, it might not have much to do with desperation or the cold, hard business of football. Instead, it might be a sign of solidarity and support. This might be a situation in which the Joneses believe they can make a difference by helping heal a broken man off the field.
Whether or not that should be their concern is up for debate.