Former Illini charged after Dallas teammate dies in accident

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Former Illini charged after Dallas teammate dies in accident

IRVING, Texas (AP) Police charged Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent with intoxication manslaughter Saturday after he flipped his car in a pre-dawn accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown.

Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said the accident happened about 2:20 a.m. Saturday in the Dallas suburb, hours before Brent was to be on a team flight to Cincinnati for the Cowboys' game Sunday against the Bengals.

Argumaniz said the 25-year-old Brown a practice-squad linebacker who also was Brent's teammate for three seasons at the University of Illinois was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a hospital.

It marked the second straight week the NFL found itself dealing with a tragedy right before gameday.

Last Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before killing himself in front of his coach and general manager. The 25-year-old Belcher shot himself in the parking lot at the team's practice complex at Arrowhead Stadium.

"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry's family and all of those who knew him and loved him."

Officers conducted a field sobriety test on Brent and arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Argumaniz said. The charge, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison, was upgraded after Brown was pronounced dead.

Argumaniz said Brent, who pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge three years ago at Illinois, was being held without bond. Brent is named as Joshua Price-Brent in the police news release. Argumaniz said Brent missed a 10 a.m. Saturday booking session with a judge because he was intoxicated. He did not know if Brent had an attorney.

Brent was speeding when the vehicle hit a curb and flipped at least once, Argumaniz said. Police received 911 calls from motorists who saw the upside-down vehicle but they did not immediately have any eyewitnesses to the wreck, the police spokesman said.

Argumaniz said when officers arrived at the scene on a state highway service road, Brent was dragging Brown from the vehicle, a Mercedes, which was on fire. Officers quickly put out the small blaze, he said.

Argumaniz said it wasn't known how fast the vehicle was traveling. The road has a 45 mph limit.

"I can say investigators are certain they were traveling well above the posted speed limit," Argumaniz said.

Before he was taken to the jail, Brent went to a hospital for a blood draw for alcohol testing and also received treatment for some minor scrapes.

Argumaniz said Brent identified himself to officers as a Cowboys player.

Cowboys players were aware of the accident Saturday morning, and coach Jason Garrett told the team about Brown's death on the plane about 1:15 p.m. after asking other personnel to step off the aircraft, team spokesman Rich Dalrymple said.

The flight was "quiet, more than normal," Dalrymple said.

Former Illinois coach Ron Zook said Brent, a third-year player who made the first start of his career in the opener against the New York Giants, was trying to help Brown make it in the NFL. Brown joined the Cowboys in October after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts.

"It was Jerry's dream, and Josh was trying to help him any way he could," Zook said.

Zook said he spoke with Brent's agent, Peter Schaffer, who said he had made contact with Brent.

"He said Josh was distraught, and he didn't care about himself or what was happening to him," Zook said. "All he cared about was Jerry's family."

Brent was arrested in February 2009 near the Illinois campus for driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and speeding, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records.

In June 2009, Brent pleaded guilty to DUI and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a fine of about 2,000. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped one count of aggravated DUIno valid driver's license. Brent successfully completed his probation in July 2011, court records show.

Brent, a nose guard, has played in all 12 games this season and played a bigger role than expected with starter Jay Ratliff battling injuries. He has 35 tackles and 1 12 sacks and might have started Sunday against the Bengals because Ratliff is out with a groin injury.

The Cowboys signed Brown to their practice squad Oct. 24, but he hasn't been on the active roster. He was released from the Colts' practice squad Oct. 20. Brown played in one game for the Colts, a loss to the New York Jets on Oct. 14.

"On behalf of the entire Colts family, our sincerest condolences go out to Jerry's family and friends," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. "He was a good teammate that was well liked by all. Today's tragic news is just another reminder of how fragile life is and how everyday given is a gift."

Brent and Brown played at Illinois from 2007 to 2009. Brent played as a freshman and finished his career with 71 tackles and five sacks. Shortly after his guilty plea on the DUI charge, Brent entered the supplemental draft with a year of eligibility remaining, and the Cowboys took him in the seventh round.

Brown, who took a redshirt season at Illinois the year before Brent arrived, had 13 tackles combined in 2007 and 2008 but didn't play in 2009.

"I can't believe it," Travon Bellamy, a former Illinois teammate, wrote on Twitter. "Before people pass judgment on Josh, they need to know that he is a good person that made a bad mistake."

Brown played for San Antonio in the Arena Football League this year. In 2011, he played for Jacksonville in the AFL and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League.

He was born and grew up in St. Louis, attending Vashon High School.

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

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Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."

Bulls' Jimmy Butler voted All-Star Game starter

Bulls' Jimmy Butler voted All-Star Game starter

Jimmy Butler is heading to his third straight All-Star Game, and for the first time he'll be in the Eastern Conference's starting lineup.

CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill reported that Butler was voted an All-Star starter.

Butler has been sensational this season, averaging a career-best 24.8 points (tied for the 10th-best mark in the league entering Thursday's games), 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest through 41 games. He's shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point range.

Butler previously made Eastern Conference All-Star squads in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, though this is his first time in the starting five.