On Monday, the Collin County medical examiner’s office ruled that former Cowboys running back Marion Barber III’s death was the result of an accidental heat stroke.
On June 1, police in Frisco, Texas were performing a welfare check on Barber. When officers entered an apartment believed to be leased by Barber, they found him dead.
According to the medical report, police found a bathtub faucet running in Barber’s apartment upon entry. The water caused damage to the ceiling of the tenants below Barber, which is what prompted the welfare check. Barber’s thermometer was also set to 91 degrees and workout equipment was located in the apartment.
In the medical report, the coroner noted that Barber liked working out in sauna-like conditions.
Barber’s father, Marion II, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his son’s body had begun decomposing by the time police found him. Marion II had this to say about his son’s passing:
“They are just using tissue as they dig further into the cause of death. They are ruling out things. They haven’t seen any trauma, no foul substances in his body. His lungs were in working order. The heart and veins around the heart were good. They are ruling things out. Right now, we are just waiting.”
Marion II also said that out of respect to his son’s wishes, his brain will not be donated for research purposes.
Barber III was a fourth round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft out of Minnesota. He rose to stardom in his last two seasons as a Golden Gopher, rushing for 1,196 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior, and 1,269 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. In Minnesota school history, Barber III has the fifth-most rushing yards and the second-most rushing touchdowns.
The Plymouth, Minnesota-native cemented his legacy as one of the best running backs in Cowboys history in only six seasons in Dallas.
Despite playing far fewer games than the other running backs who accompany him on the Cowboys’ list of all-time great ball carriers, Barber III’s stats still hold up. Barber III ran for 4,358 yards and 47 touchdowns, ranking eighth and fourth in the franchise record books, respectively.
What’s even more impressive is that Barber III accomplished these feats by spending most of his NFL days as a backup. He didn’t earn the top spot on the running back depth chart until year four in 2008.
Barber III’s best season, and only Pro-Bowl selection, came in 2007. He carried the ball for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging a whopping 4.8 yards per carry.