DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 11: Running back Marion Barber #24 of the Chicago Bears rushes nine yards for a third quarter touchdown to give the Bears a 7-0 lead over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 11, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Marion Barber
There perhaps wasn't a more well-liked Dallas Cowboy a few years ago than running back Marion Barber III. His bruising style of play, high level of excitement and sweet braids made him a fan favorite as he seemed to be the heir apparent the Cowboys had been waiting for — someone to finally fill the big shoes left by Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher.
After two seasons of double-digit touchdowns, including a year when he led the league with 14 in 2006, Barber's production began to drop off dramatically in 2008 as it was evident he just played with too much physicality to stay fresh and healthy.
He earned the nickname "The Barbarian" as he would have rather tried to run over someone than run around them, but prior to last season, the Cowboys decided it was time to part ways and go exclusively with Felix Jones, which of course turned into the emergence of DeMarco Murray.
Barber, 28, always seemed to have a bit of the Ricky Williams syndrome as he rarely spoke to the media and seemed to have other interests than football alone, such as playing the piano. He was reclusive, which is why it came as no surprise that Barber didn't even call a press conference to announce his retirement, choosing to just release a statement through the the Chicago Bears, with whom he signed prior to the 2011 season.
Barber rushed for 422 yards and six touchdowns in 2011 while missing a handful games due to injuries.
In all, the toll Barber's body took, often at his own choosing, ended up catching up with the relatively young running back.
"I want to thank everyone who gave me the opportunity to play, and I'm very thankful to have had the chance to suit up for two of the NFL's most storied organizations," Barber said to the team's official website. "I want to thank everyone who helped me become a better player. I owe a lot to a lot of coaches, and am also very grateful to the owners and organizations I played for. Last but not least, I want to thank the fans for the support and inspiration they gave me."
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