Frisco, Texas –Marion Barber III, the former Dallas Cowboys running back who is fourth in franchise history with 47 rushing touchdowns, has died, the team announced Wednesday. He was 38 years old.
Barber played a final season with Chicago in 2011 after spending his first six years with the Cowboys. He had mental health issues after his career.
Police in Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, said Wednesday they conducted a wellness check at an apartment “believed to be rented” by Barber and are investigating an unattended death.
The Cowboys, who are headquartered in Frisco, said they were “heartbroken by the tragic death of Marion Barber III”.
“Marion was a hard-nosed, old-school football player who ran with the will to win every try,” the team said. “He had a passion for the game and a love for his coaches and teammates.”
Barber’s father, Marion Barber Jr., played seven seasons with the New York Jets in the 1980s.
The younger Barber was third on Dallas’ career list for rushing touchdowns before being passed in 2021 by two-time NFL champion Ezekiel Elliott. Barber finished with 53 total points and never had less than four in his seven seasons, although he never had a 1,000-yard rushing season.
The former Minnesota player, a fourth-round pick by Dallas in 2005, had 24 touchdowns in 2006-07 despite starting just one game in both seasons. Barber’s career high was 14 touchdowns in 2006, when he rushed for just 654 yards.
Barber had a career-high 975 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2007, when he made his only Pro Bowl. His role and production declined from there, and he hit career lows in runs, yards and touchdowns in his senior year at Dallas in 2010.
Three years after his career ended, Barber was detained and taken to hospital for a mental health evaluation. Police in Mansfield, another Dallas suburb, said it was unclear what led to the calls that prompted their response.
Both Barber and his father played for the Golden Gophers, and young Barber is second on the school’s career list with 35 rushing touchdowns.
Barber and Laurence Maroney, a 2006 New England first-round draft pick, were the first pair of NCAA defensemen to produce two 1,000-yard seasons in consecutive years on the same team. They did it in 2003-04.
Barber’s younger brothers, Dom Barber and Thomas Barber, also played for the Gophers. Dom Barber spent four years as a defensive back with the Houston Texans.
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