They seemed inseparable, college pals who later played for the Dallas Cowboys together.
That friendship is now under the spotlight in a Dallas County, Texas court, where Joshua Brent is charged with intoxication manslaughter in teammate Jerry Brown's death.
Brent, a defensive tackle known for menacing opposing quarterbacks, could face, if convicted, 20 years in prison for Brown's Dec. 8, 2012, death. Brown, a Cowboys practice-squad player, was the passenger the night Brent crashed his Mercedes.
Police dash-cam video shows the overturned car still smoking as first responders attend to Brown, who later died at age 25. Video also shows Brent, 25, during a field sobriety test, where police say he couldn't recite the alphabet and admitted he had "a buzz going on."
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In opening arguments Monday, prosecutors used that video to illustrate the basis of their case: that Brent's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
Brent's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.189 percent, well above the Texas legal limit of 0.08, according to police documents released after the crash.
"This is not a difficult case, ladies and gentlemen," prosecutor Heath Harris said. "There will be no disputing the fact that he was drinking that night."
But Brent's attorney George Milner told jurors that the 320-pound former lineman could safely drink more than most people.
"Josh Brent is as big as a house," Milner said.
"He was guilty of being stupid and driving too fast, but he was not drunk."
Size as a defense? Bruce Goldberger, a toxicologist who directs UF Health Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says Milner's argument doesn't add up.
"One's impairment has absolutely nothing to do with their size and weight and height," said Goldberger, who has no connection to the case.
As for Brent and Brown, the two were said to be like brothers, bonding at the University of Illinois before entering the professional ranks. Even Brown's mother says she has forgiven Brent.
But prosecutors say that doesn't change the facts, claiming receipts prove Brent bought several cocktails and three bottles of champagne that night.
Brent, who has retired from the team, is also accused of driving with an expired and suspended license. He has pleaded not guilty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.