America’s game in mourning once more

It’s December.

A time when the NFL usually boils down to wins, losses and those play-off spots.

But this year, it’s different. This year all concentration is on the players’ actions off the pitch.

On Saturday night, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was arrested for drink driving and charged with manslaughter after a car he was driving crashed and killed team-mate Jerry Brown Jr, in the second tragedy involving NFL players in a week.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Irving said that Brent, 24, was driving at high speed at 2.21am when the car slammed into an “outside curb, causing the vehicle to flip at least one time before coming to rest in the middle of the service road”.

Brown, who had been in the passenger seat, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital a short time later. Brent suffered “minor scrapes” and was booked into the Irving jail.

About an hour after the grieving Cowboys secured an emotional 20-19 victory over the Bengals on the final play, a barefooted Brent walked slowly out of the jail in the Dallas suburb of Irving after his release on $500,000 (€386,000) bond.

When police arrived on the scene of the accident after several 911 calls, part of the car was on fire. The 2007 Mercedes sedan was resting on its roof in the middle of the road, and Brent was dragging Brown out of the burning car, said Irving police spokesman Argumaniz.

The tragedy comes as the NFL is still reeling from the death of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who fatally shot his girlfriend one week ago before driving to the team’s training facility and killing himself in front of the coach and general manager.

It overshadowed the action on the field once again, where Robert Griffin III’s backup helped secure a 31-28 overtime victory for the Washington Redskins over the Baltimore Ravens.

The Redskins’ franchise star was diagnosed with a knee sprain, a determination confirmed by an MRI exam. Hours earlier and without the need for such high-tech analytical devices, something else became clear: The Redskins are legitimately in the hunt for a play-off spot.

Of course, those chances of moving from contender to an actual playoff berth for the first time since 2007 could hinge on when Griffin is able to return. The Redskins (7-6) kept pace with the NFC East-leading New York Giants (8-5).

“I’ll still be able to run and do those things if it’s just a real bad bruise,” said Griffin. “Like I told coach [Mike Shanahan], I’ll fight through it and I’ll be playing next week.”

As Griffin’s status for Week 15 remains uncertain, Redskins rookie Kirk Cousins showed — albeit very briefly — that he is a capable substitute. The Redskins, overall, also proved they are more than just a team being carried by 2011’s Heisman Trophy winner.

Weekend results: Broncos 26 Raiders 13, Redskins 31 Ravens 28 (OT), Cowboys 20 Bengals 19, Rams 15 Bills 12, Eagles 23 Buccaneers 21, Panthers 30 Falcons 20, Browns 30 Chiefs 7, Chargers 34 Steelers 24, Colts 27 Titans 23, Jets 17 Jaguars 10, Vikings 21 Bears 14, 49ers 27 Dolphins 13, Seahawks 58 Cardinals 0, Giants 52 Saints 27, Packers 27 Lions 20.


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