Bill Parcells on Marion Barber’s death: ‘He was almost like a perfect player’ (2024)

By Calvin Watkins

9:23 AM on Jun 2, 2022 CDT — Updated at 1:45 PM on Jun 5, 2022 CDT

FRISCO — If there was anyone that knew Cowboys running back Marion Barber, who was found dead in his Frisco apartment on Wednesday, it was his former coach Bill Parcells.

“I hold him in high regard,” Parcells told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday morning from his home in Saratoga Springs, New York. “I hate to bring up football now because that’s not important, but he was almost like a perfect player. In this respect, he could run, block, he could catch, he was tough and he was always there. So that’s what I’ll say about him.”


Parcells said he was sad Barber had passed and he didn’t know the specifics of his death. Barber was drafted in Parcells’ third year as Cowboys coach (2005) in the fourth round from the University of Minnesota. Parcells noted Barber’s father played for the Jets and his grandfather also played for the Dolphins.


“I would say I found him to be a very nice, respectful young man,” Parcells said. “And I had a very high regard for him. He was like he could do everything you could ask him to do and he was always there.”


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The tributes for Barber, who played with the Cowboys from 2005-10 and with Bears for the 2011 season, came pouring in after news of his death surfaced.

“I am truly heartbroken to hear the incredibly sad news of Marion Barber’s passing,” former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said in a text message to The News before releasing a statement on Twitter Wednesday night. “He was a rare guy! Marion played the game with such passion! He had a deep-down love for football and it showed in everything that he did!


“He would run through the wall for you and he always had your back. I absolutely love Marion Barber and will miss him very much. Brill (Garrett’s wife) and I are so saddened by this news and extend our sincere condolences to the Barber family and all who loved him.”

Barber was found in an apartment after Frisco police were asked to do a welfare check on Wednesday. A cause of death was not determined.

He was 38.


During his time with the Cowboys, Barber was named to the Pro Bowl in 2007 while rushing for 975 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. He was nicknamed “The Barbarian” for his physical running style. Barber rushed for 4,780 yards with 53 touchdowns in a seven-year career.


“A great teammate and a great dude to be around,” former teammate Marcus Spears said in a text message. “A warrior on the field. I’m gonna remember MB as my spades partner and someone that I would rap real life [stuff] with every once in a while. Rest well, MB, the Barbarian.”

More reaction:

Cowboys running back coach Skip Peete: “The guy showed up every day had a smile on his face, came to work. If I could show anybody a model and a role to develop a running back to play in this league, it definitely would be Marion. The guy came to work every day, practiced hard every day, did a great job in the meetings every day. He was a little bit like obviously his name was Barbarian. As a player, very physical, very physical player. As a runner, as a protector and had the ability to run routes out of the backfield very unique in that way. But I think the thing that maybe a lot of you really don’t know about him is, he’s an unbelievable person. Give the shirt off his back. Invite people over to his house. Cook dinner for them. He would stop by my home, play with my kids when they were young. Very personable in that way. "


Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott on if he watched tape of Barber: “I mean, Marion Barber, you think about this excitement, the passion he plays with, how hard he ran, yeah, I mean, he was a fan favorite here, you saw him, it could be a 3-yard run [haha], you could see the crowd getting hyped up. I just want to offer my condolences to his family, his loved ones and ask that we all gather around them and support them in through this hard time.”

— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) June 1, 2022

— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) June 5, 2022

We are saddened to learn of the passing of former Bears RB Marion Barber III. Our hearts go out to his family & friends.

— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 2, 2022


Marion Barber was the definition of a tenacious runner. He always made something out of nothing.

This was the most incredible 2-yard run ever.


— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 1, 2022

Gone too soon. Rest In Peace MB (Marion Barber III). If you knew or liked him as a player, please share your favorite memory. Love bro🙏🏾

— terence newman (@terencenewman) June 2, 2022

One of my fav people and teammates that I have ever known. This one hurts I just pray you had peace and I’m thankful to know you are home with Christ. I love you man

— Coach Choice (@coachchoice) June 1, 2022

Cowboys officials remained close to Marion Barber after his playing days. When he was going through troubles, team officials kept in contact with him and offered help if needed. “Once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy,” one team official said a year ago about Barber.

— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) June 1, 2022


I instantly started crying today thinking about all of the athletes who have passed at a very young age..why I gotta be crazy for speaking up? Athletes why are some of you scared to speak? I’ll trade all my money in for guidance and answers we need it..

— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) June 2, 2022

The NFL mourns the tragic loss of Marion Barber III and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

— NFL (@NFL) June 2, 2022


Marion Barber’s furious running style left an impact on the Cowboys


Find more Cowboys coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Calvin Watkins. This is my 15th year covering the Dallas Cowboys. I've covered four head coaches and started covering the beat in Bill Parcells' last season when Tony Romo took over in 2006. And now I'm in the midst of the Dak Prescott/Micah Parsons era. @calvinwatkins

Bill Parcells on Marion Barber’s death: ‘He was almost like a perfect player’ (2024)
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