IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys officials were surprised to see nose tackle Josh Brent at Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Brent is on the reserved non-football injury list as a result of being charged with intoxication manslaughter two weeks ago.
Several of Brent's teammates urged him to attend the Steelers game and coach Jason Garrett, who spoke to the player the day before the game, didn't even know about it until pregame warmups.
"I actually talked to Josh on Saturday and visited with him over the phone for a little while, just checked in with him to see how he was doing, if he needed anything from us," Garrett said. "Again, he was working through a lot of different things in his life, and just to let him know we support him. Our players have been over to his house, and they've been in contact with him and very close to him. So, you know, I didn't actually know he was going to be at the game. But again, we're trying to handle it day by day and work our way through it. We'll have some more discussions about that going forward."
Garrett said the Cowboys' players are following the wishes of Jerry Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson.
Brown, a Cowboys practice squad player, was killed in a one-car accident involving Brent the day before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
At the memorial service for her son, Jackson told the players to care for Brent and keep him involved with the team as much as they can. The organization has expressed support for Brent since the accident, while making it known that it does not condone drunken driving.
Garrett said Brent left in the third quarter of the Cowboys-Steelers game because he didn't want to be a distraction. The Cowboys were criticized during the broadcast of the game for allowing Brent on the sidelines.
"It becomes a real sensitive topic to a lot of people when you're in a public place like the game," Garrett said. "There were no bad intentions other than to support Josh as part of our football team. This is a game and you need to be here. That's what our players wanted to convey to him and they really encouraged him to come to the game. I thought Josh handled it beautifully the way that he came and then when he felt like there were some issues he felt the right thing to do was to leave. But we're going to support him in every way that we can. We also will be sensitive to this kind of issue."
Garrett said the Cowboys will evaluate what the future may hold for Brent in terms of attending Sunday's game against New Orleans and any future games.
Before the game, Brent watched his teammates warm up and in the locker room he spoke to several players offering encouragement. Brent stood behind the players during the national anthem with Brown's jersey over his shoulder.
"Our team and our players wanted him today on the sideline," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said following Dallas' 27-24 victory. "Jerry's mother asked us directly as a group. She said, 'Support him. Help him. He needs your help. Jerry wants that. I want that.' His teammates asked him to come and be down there with them, and that's where we are."
"I do know that certainly that there's the other side of the coin, but this is a case that the people that arguably he's the closest to really wanting him around for him."