CINCINNATI (CBSDFW.COM) – Brandon Carr is a former Kansas City Chiefs player who socialized with Jovan Belcher and girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. So in the wake of last weekend’s murder-suicide in which Belcher killed the mother of his child and later turned the gun on himself, Carr felt it appropriate to attend Perkins’ memorial service in Austin. He did so with an excused absence from the charter flight of his new team, the Dallas Cowboys, who on Saturday left DFW for Cincinnati.
But immediately upon leaving the service for Perkins, Carr checked his phone and learned that another tragedy had touched his life: He was informed that current Cowboys teammate Josh Brent was in an Irving jail on intoxicated/manslaughter charges and that Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown was dead after Brent’s car hit a curb and flipped early Saturday morning.
“Honestly, I couldn’t do it myself,’’ Carr told me through tears when speaking about the emotional burden of two of the NFL’s most tragic events ever. “Teammates have had my back since Day 1. And they stepped up even more with what’s transpired last week and this week. … Whew … Carpe diem.’’
Carr made one of the big plays in the Cowboys’ 20-19 upset victory over Bengals, an interception and 37-yard return that contributed to a win that pushes Dallas to 7-6 and keeps it in the playoff hunt. Carr did so despite an emotional devastation that was essentially doubled over the course of the week – devastation he spoke about with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as they traveled together to Cincinnati about Jones’ private plane.
“It was a hard day for Brandon, a real hard day,” Jones said. “It was a hard day for him on the plane. … For him, I can tell you just firsthand because I spent the time that I spent with him (Saturday). It was fitting that he got the big play he got for us.”
But as Carr said, he was not alone. Not alone in devastation and not alone in support. Coach Jason Garrett offered moving presentations in his postgame press conference and privately in the locker room as well, as he announced that the game ball would be presented to Brown’s grieving mother. Defensive lineman Jason Hatcher, a quiet leader, was in charge of Brown’s No. 53 jersey, which spend the afternoon resting on the Cowboys’ team bench.
“Everybody on a team is family,’’ said Dan Bailey, who made the 40-yard game-winning field goal at game’s end. “We did a great job leaning on each other.’’
“Life crept into the arena with us,’’ said big-play linebacker Anthony Spencer. “This shows our determination.’’
“Can you imagine what it’s like,’’ said another leader, fullback Lawrence Vickers, “to have to wipe away tears between every play?’’
The Cowboys now can. And one Cowboy can imagine what it’s like to do it two games in a row.
“It falls back to take advantage of the time you have and love harder than you’ve ever loved because you never know when, where, how, whatever,’’ Carr said, eyes still welling with tears. “When your time is up, there’s no getting it back. That’s why every day you live it to the fullest and you just take advantage of every chance you get.”
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