After undergoing hard times at the University of Illinois, best friends and college teammates, Jerry Brown Jr. and Josh Brent were finally enjoying success with the Dallas Cowboys.

But their promising plans ended tragically early Saturday morning when the 2007 Mercedes they were riding was involved in a mishap near the site of the old Texas Stadium. The accident killed Brown as the Irving police arrested Brent, the driver, on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter.

Brown, age 25, was a linebacker on the Cowboys’ practice squad while Brent, 24, had been slated to start at nose tackle in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Head coach Jason Garrett informed the team of the tragedy about 1:15 evening of Saturday, moments before the Cowboys left for Ohio. Receivers coach Jimmy Robinson described the mood on the flight as very subdued, pretty quiet.

There was a team psychologist who was with them in the trip, and the Cowboys coordinated with the NFL to provide more counselors if necessary.

Shortly before the crash, the two players, brown and Brent were reportedly having a party with teammates and celebrities at a Dallas nightclub.

According to police, Brent and Brown were speeding west in the 1400 block of the East State Highway 114 service road around 2:21 in the morning. Brent’s car veered into the outside curb and ran about a distance of 900 feet before coming to rest upside down in the middle of the road.

Investigators were certain that they were traveling above the posted speed limit as physical evidence showed on the scene like the gouge marks, skid marks, where the vehicle initially impacted the curb and where the vehicle came to rest, said Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz. The posted speed limit was set at 45 mph, he added.

Arriving rescue team saw Brent trying to drag his teammate from the burning car. Brown remained unresponsive and was immediately rushed to a hospital. However, he was pronounced dead after arrival. The small fire was speedily extinguished.

Brent sustained minor injuries, mostly scrapes. He failed in the field sobriety tests and was taken to a hospital. Later, he was booked into the Irving jail on charges of second-degree felony which merits up to 20 years in prison and was asked to pay a $10,000 fine. Authorities were awaiting results of blood alcohol tests.

Brent remained in the jail late Saturday. Police expected bail to be set Sunday morning. According to published reports, this was not Brent’s first brush with trouble. He was arrested at Illinois back in 2009 on a drunken driving charge. He pleaded guilty, received two years of probation and spent a month behind bars.

Due to bad grades, he was not able to return to the University of Illinois, and he declared for the NFL supplemental draft, where he was taken by the Cowboys. He played in all 16 games his rookie year.

Brown was a St. Louis native who played with two years as a defensive lineman at Illinois. He struggled academically and left in 2008 after his sophomore season but was undrafted out of college. Finally, he make it into the NFL and was signed by the Indianapolis Colts this season as a free agent and rotated between the practice squad and the regular roster before being released. Later, he joined the Cowboys in October.

Gilmore, who was their former college coach, said that Brent and Brown had been thrilled to be reunited as Cowboys. It was a dream come true for those guys to have an opportunity to play pro football together.

Family members of Brown said they were devastated. Brown was expecting a child, something he reflected on in a recent Facebook post.

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