Death is sad, always. Let’s just get that out of the way. Perhaps not for the dearly departed, but for those that are left behind that are closest to them. However, that does not make every death a tragedy. It’s tragic when children die, regardless of the cause. Children by definition are innocent so their deaths are always felt more. The events of 09.11.2001 were a tragedy. Terrorist actions anywhere in the world are a tragedy. It was a tragedy when over 2,000 British and American soldiers needlessly died or were injured at the Battle of New Orleans 16 days after a peace treaty had been signed to end the War of 1812.
The death of the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Brown, Jr. doesn’t reach that level. His death is sad, and his family, friends, and teammates will surely miss him, and for them, it may appear to be a tragedy. It’s not. At best, it is simply a horrible accident born out of Josh Brent driving at irresponsible speeds. If published reports are true, and Josh Brent failed a field sobriety test, then it was a senseless, stupid loss of life.
I’ve never been a professional athlete, so I can’t say with certainty what is going on in their minds in the moments before an incident like this occurs. I imagine that in the case where they drive while under the influence, their line of thinking is similar to non-athletes the nation over: “I can handle my liquor. I can drive, let’s go.” Maybe there’s a little god-complex mixed in, too. Perhaps for some, reaching the pinnacle of their chosen career makes them feel invincible. Maybe the feeling of invincibility is a necessity to make it as a professional athlete. I simply don’t know.
When incidents like Jerry Brown, Jr.’s death are spoken of as ‘tragedy’, it does a true disservice not only to the word, but to the situation. If the reports end up being true, and Brent was driving while intoxicated the message that comes from every corner of the landscape should be loud and clear: “DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!” It’s simply ridiculous that grown men cannot be responsible enough to make plans for how they’re going to get around when they know they are going out drinking. There are car services, there are taxis, and I’m certain that there are a plethora of people who would be available to come help out with one phone call. There’s simply no excuse for anyone, but particularly a professional athlete who has reached the highest level of the game he plays. Be responsible. Watch out for your own life, and for the lives of those that you call friends.
If there can be any good that comes from a situation as terrible as this one, it might be that others will remember this incident the next time they think about getting behind the wheel after drinking. There’s simply no reward to drinking and driving. In situations like this, it is always better to be safe.