You don't know what you've got until it's gone.
For Perrish Cox, that's more than a cliché usually attached to romance.
Forced to sit out the 2011 NFL season due to legal issues, Cox is embracing a second opportunity with the San Francisco 49ers, who host the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night in an NFC divisional game.
“Being away from football, it was tough watching it on TV knowing I could have been out there,” Cox said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. “It was the toughest thing anyone could ever go through. Looking back, it's something that will always stick with me.”
The former Oklahoma State star cornerback is playing a backup role for the 'Niners. Cox simply is grateful to be playing. Last year, Cox was forced to watch games from his home while awaiting trial in Colorado.
A fifth-round pick by Denver in 2010, Cox played in 15 games, starting nine.
The Waco, Texas, native lost his job in September 2011 after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman who allegedly passed out in his apartment. The Broncos said they released Cox because of his performance on the field.
It was a drawn out ordeal. The incident occurred on Labor Day weekend. The trial started nearly six months later. Cox said he never had sex with the woman.
“When I look in the mirror, I look at where I was in my life,” Cox said. “I never want to go back down that road. It motivates me to be a better person on and off the field. It's helped me how I treat my family and know who my true friends are, who I want to keep around me.”
Last March, a jury in Castle Rock, Colo., acquitted Cox. Two weeks later, the 49ers signed him to a two-year $1.02 million deal.
Cox had a similarly star-crossed career at OSU, where he was a difference-maker on the field and a finalist for the Thorpe Award. But he also had issues off the field, including sitting out the Cotton Bowl after twice missing curfew.
Less than a year later with the Broncos, he was out of a job.
The 49ers gave him a second chance.
“As an organization, from ownership on down, we've done our due diligence and are confident that Perrish will be a positive contributor to the 49ers as well as our community,” general manager Trent Baalke told Bay Area media when Cox signed in mid-March.
Cox has recorded 20 tackles and two passes defended. In addition to playing in the dime package, Cox plays on nearly every special teams unit. He said it's a blessing to sign with a team that was a muffed kick away from last year's Super Bowl, a team that this season owns wins over fellow championship contenders New England and Green Bay.
“Everyone here is on the same page. They play with a lot of energy,” Cox said. “They're trying not to live in the past. But you hear them talk about how much fun they had, flying around, winning, going deep into the playoffs. Me being part of that, I just try to add what I can add.”