Some time after this, Josh Brent has a choice to make. He's spent time in jail for driving drunk. He's heard the entreaties of a quadriplegic woman and a brokenhearted man. He's attended several lectures required by the NFL and the Cowboys on the subject of driving drunk. He can call a confidential safe-ride service administered by the NFL Players Association. He can call one of two limousine services affiliated with the Cowboys. He can call a member of the Cowboys' staff whose job it is to be available all day and all night to help the players however he can. Josh Brent does none of those things. According to a police report, his blood-alcohol level will later be measured at 0.189, more than twice the legal threshold of intoxication. He gets in his white Mercedes and starts the engine.
Jerry Brown has a choice too. He could call those numbers, or he could demand the keys from his friend. Subsequent tests will indicate that he's less drunk than Josh. But he carries no driver's license. And it's his friend's car, and he lives in his friend's home, and his team was his friend's team first, and—Jerry gets in the Mercedes.
Thirteen days from now, 10 days after Josh attends Jerry's memorial service and nine months before he goes on trial on a charge of intoxication manslaughter, Jerry's mother will walk to the mailbox and remove a manila envelope. Inside she'll find a single gray lineman's glove and the letter that tells its story. "If this glove and this story helps you be happier through the holidays," Anthony Jansen will write, "then I think we both know why Jerry threw his glove to me that day."
The nightclub is less than five miles from Josh Brent's apartment. The white Mercedes travels northwest on the service road of the Carpenter Freeway. Straight ahead is a railroad bridge, the same bridge Debbie Weir can see from her corner office. The Mercedes is a mile from the 511 Building, on the road that leads to its entrance. For 32 years the occupants of the seventh floor have tried to prevent what happens next. All it takes is a tire against the curb. The chain reaction begins. Jerry Brown's fate is in Josh Brent's hands. They are almost home.