With retired Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent receiving a 10-year prison sentence that ultimately will result in 180 days behind bars, the man convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate Jerry Brown will be out of jail by late July.
And, in theory, Brent will be free to return to the NFL.
But the league could have something to say about that. Free-agent receiver Donte’ Stallworth served a one-year suspension after pleading guilty to similar charges; now that the justice system has spoken with respect to Brent, the NFL could do the same thing.
Currently, the league isn’t focused on Brent’s future. “We will deal with this issue down the road,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT.
It nevertheless presents an intriguing dilemma for the league, given that Brent is the first player who chose to impose, as a practical matter, a suspension on himself by retiring with the charges pending. By helping the league avoid the potentially awkward prospect of taking action against a man who was entitled to the presumption of innocence pending trial, Brent should get some consideration when the time comes to determine whether he’ll be welcomed back to the league.
Whatever the NFL does, the NFL Players Association faces a potentially awkward situation, too. On one hand, the NFLPA has a duty to fight the league on Brent’s behalf. On the other hand, a member of the union died because of Brent’s criminal misconduct.
Regardless, if Brent decides to return to football after he pays his debt to society, the NFL will have to decide whether he should be suspended above and beyond the one year he already has missed, at his own choice.