Marion Barber III, former Cowboys running back, dies at 38


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Marion Barber III, a former NFL running back, was found dead Wednesday at his Dallas-area apartment. The ex-Cowboys star was 38.

Authorities in Frisco, Tex., have yet to release a cause of death. A spokesman for the Frisco Police Department confirmed Barber’s body was found after officers performed a welfare check at his residence.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Marion Barber III,” the Cowboys said in a statement. “Marion was an old-school, hard-nosed football player who ran with the will to win every down. He had a passion for the game and love for his coaches and teammates. Our hearts go out to Marion’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Barber had several legal issues after his NFL career ended in 2011. In 2014, he was reportedly taken to a hospital by police for a mental health evaluation after an incident in Mansfield, Tex. Last year, former teammate Dez Bryant tweeted a message of despair over the way Barber’s life was “going right now” and added that the ex-back was “down and out bad.”

In April, Barber was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 60 hours of community service after he was charged with two counts of criminal mischief following a 2018 incident in which he was accused of running into two cars, causing dents in them.

A fourth-round pick out of Minnesota in the 2005 draft, Barber began to blossom in his second season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the Cowboys. In 2007, he played so well that he was selected for the Pro Bowl despite never starting a game; while spelling Julius Jones that season, Barber racked up 1,257 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. He remained an effective player over the next two seasons before his performance began to slip, and after being released by the Cowboys in 2011 he spent a final season with the Chicago Bears.

Barber was known for his hard-charging style, which made him difficult to bring down on first contact but may also have exposed him to more physical punishment. On a legendary 2007 carry that gained just two yards — but required approximately 60 yards of running by Barber — he shook off tackle attempts by six New England Patriots defenders, including five in the end zone that would have caused a safety.

The son of former New York Jets running back Marion Barber Jr., Barber also was the brother of former Houston Texans defensive back Dom Barber. Another brother, Thomas Barber, was a college linebacker at Minnesota, where his siblings also played, as did their father.

During his college career, Marion Barber III climbed to third in Golden Gophers history with 3,276 rushing yards. He and teammate Laurence Maroney, who became a first-round pick by the Patriots, formed the first pair of Minnesota backs to each rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Over his seven NFL seasons, Barber accumulated 4,780 yards on the ground with 53 touchdowns, and he added 1,330 yards and six touchdowns as a pass-catcher.

Barber is the fourth former NFL player to have died at a relatively young age since December, when ex-wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was found dead at 33 at his Georgia home. In April, 24-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was killed in a traffic accident in Florida, and 25-year-old Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jeff Gladney was killed in a car crash Monday in Dallas.


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