Josh Brent was charged with being wasted when he took the wheel and his Cowboys teammate for a deadly spin, but alcohol was only part of the brew. Very possibly, the intoxication also involved some mixture of immaturity, fame, money and a fascination with 4 a.m. bedtimes.

Taken separately, none of those are especially harmful or even unlawful. But as we've seen so many countless times, too many young athletes can't handle all that at once. And so you get sad situations like what just happened in Dallas over the weekend. And in Kansas City the week before.

You get young men like Josh Brent and Jovan Belcher who are tremendously gifted at what they do for a living, and just as incredibly clueless about almost everything else. They're All-Stars at causing train wrecks, not only for themselves but often for the innocent people who shared their space at that fateful moment.

Jerry Brown Jr. didn't have to die, and yet he knowingly chose to ride shotgun with a knucklehead who didn't have the good sense to hire a driver or at least tell the bartender, "No mas." When Brent, according to police in Irving, Texas, drove at a high speed while intoxicated and flipped his car, he now must live with ending the life of a best friend, one who was a teammate with the Cowboys and also in college at Illinois. And Brent's the lucky one. At least he gets to live with something.

What's really sad and unforgivable is how athletes -- and doctors and lawyers and singers and sports writers, too, but we'll just narrow the conversation to athletes for now -- don't observe and learn. In our lifetime, there's been what, six zillion incidents of athletes losing their mind and their grip? And still, not everyone has figured it out? You mean not everyone has looked at Dez Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger and Marshawn Lynch and said, "Uh-uh, that won't be me?" Not everyone can read a police blotter and see names they recognize and even respect? Or just make good, safe and reasonable decisions and still enjoy the perks and privileges their lifestyle allows?

Get this: Brent is a repeat loser. He was arrested for drunken driving just three years ago, while in college. It's just irresponsible and stupid that he'd find himself in this situation again. Here's what he told his hometown newspaper after claiming he learned his lesson (warning, the following passage may cause your brain to scramble from viciously shaking your head):

"You're able to sit back and look at your mistakes and realize they were mistakes," he said. "You're able to fully comprehend and understand where the mistakes were made, and not just finding out where to place the blame."

Not only did he believe what he said, but how many bought that story? How many gave him another chance? How many were suckered? Well, we know of at least one, unfortunately.

The tragic death of Jerry Brown, and I'm going with the gut here, didn't start at the club in Dallas. It has roots from 10 and maybe 15 years ago when Brent didn't get enough good sense drilled in his head. Or maybe he did and just ignored all the solid advice. We've seen the type before: A solid athlete skates by because he brings joy to thousands of worshippers and money to his college and professional team. As long as he's breaking tackles or making them, his flaws are neatly ignored or even forgiven. He's special, and for the most part, society elevates him and treats him that way.

Until it's too late. Until his cover is blown and he's revealed to be too pampered and too far gone to change suddenly. Until his lack of restraint or temptation ruins him or, even worse, him and someone else.

The easy thing to do is place the blame where it belongs, squarely on the guilty party, and that's right and proper. At the same time, it took a village to raise a fool, and therefore blame should be shared, namely to the responsible adults, if there were any, in his life. Weren't they in charge with shaping his character just as sports and fame began to take a chokehold? Weren't they supposed to keep him grounded, teach him morals and professionalism, warn him about the fleeting nature of his job? Show him the right way to treat a woman, and deal with temptation, and how to choose his friends wisely, and conduct himself, and understand the magnitude at stake? Or were they too intimidated and star struck and gravy-train focused themselves?

For every athlete guilty of spousal abuse and drunk driving and assault in professional sports, there are two who kept clean. Just the same, others managed to escape a trap they set for themselves, for one reason or another, sometimes more than once. It's a total mixed bag, and anyone demanding a perfect and flawless sports society is being unrealistic. There are too many young men with maturity issues and weak foundations to expect anything else. A Josh Brent situation happened before, it happened this weekend and it'll happen again, in some form or another.

Lessons won't be learned and poor judgment will be repeated because unprepared athletes can't help themselves. They're addicted to taking risks and losing their self-control and often, their minds.

Only when they do something that causes them to lose their ability to play for a living do they wise up. By then, it's too late. Just ask Jerry Brown. If only you could.