Former Cowboys Running Back Marion Barber Died Of Heat Stroke | His Playing Style Suggests It Could Have Been More Than That

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Last month, former Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber was found dead in his apartment. On Monday, the former Minnesota Golden Gophers star’s death was ruled by the medical examiner to be from heat stroke. The Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office released a statement on the matter.

“Mr Barber was known to exercise in sauna-like conditions,” the statement said. 

The report also read that “Barber’s faucet was running, and the apartment was 91 degrees with the heat set to on.”

“Barber was known to have a history of medical problems and mental health concerns.”

 

 

While that may have played a role in his death, one has to wonder if his former playing style played some part. He used his head quite often as he carried the football. It wouldn’t be a stretch, with all of these cases of CTE popping up for deceased NFL players, that Barber also suffered from some brain trauma. 

At the time of his June death, the Cowboys released a statement.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Marion Barber III. 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 Wasn’t Called “Marion The Barbarian” For Nothing

The medical examiner’s report indicated MBIII suffered from health and mental problems. Unfortunately, many former NFL players are suffering from those very conditions following their playing days. It’s becoming all too common. Barber ran the football with a vengeance and carried a mean streak to match. Some even referred to him as a “battering ram” because of his unrelenting, physical running style. His head-down, hit-you-first running style could’ve caused some serious head trauma, which could have led to other health problems. 

 

 

Similar To Beast Mode 

Barber’s running style is often compared to that of Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, but there’s a huge difference. One of those differences is the rule changes that don’t allow backs to use their helmets as weapons anymore, and defenders can’t take shots at the ball carrier’s head anymore. Those changes came into effect after Barber’s career was done and right when Lynch reached his prime.

In his career, “the Barbarian,” only started 42 of a possible 99 games, but when he touched the field, he brought a ferocious style to the game and Cowboys offense.

Barber Made One Pro Bowl: Could’ve Been Much More

Barber was a fourth-round pick out of Minnesota who played seven seasons, (six in Dallas and one in Chicago). He made his lone Pro Bowl appearance in 2007, rushing for a career-high 975 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2006 he finished third in the league in paydirt touches behind only LaDainian Tomlinson (28) and Larry Johnson (17).

 

Given what we now know about CTE, if you ever watched Marion Barber, then it seems like he would be a logical candidate to have had it following his playing days. Maybe we are looking too deeply into it, but heat stroke just seems like an odd way to go out for a former world-class athlete.