“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,” the Cowboys said in their statement.
Barber was found dead by police in Frisco, Texas after they carried out a welfare check at an apartment.
“Frisco Police responded to a welfare concern at an apartment believed to be leased by Marion Barber,” police spokesperson Joshua Lovell said.
“Frisco Police along with the Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating an unattended death at the location.”
Someone in the building had called about a water leak coming from Barber’s apartment and police had to force their way in, reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper quoting a source.
Police, however, have not yet provided a cause of death.
Popularly known as “Marion the Barbarian”, Barber played for seven years in the NFL, the first six of which were with the Cowboys.
He retired in March 2012 after a final year with the Chicago Bears, reported CNN.
Two years after his retirement, Barber was detained by Mansfield police and taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation in 2014.
He was arrested in 2019 on two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief for an incident that occured in 2018 in which it was alleged he damaged two cars while running in Frisco.
Following the announcement of his death, tributes poured for the athlete on social media.
“I am truly heartbroken to hear the incredibly sad news of Marion Barber’s passing,” said former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “Marion played the game with such passion! He had a deep-down love for football and it showed in everything that he did!”
“Forever in our hearts,” wrote the Dallas Cowboys in their tribute to Barber.
Tributes also poured in from Barber’s shocked fans.
“Marion Barber was one of the toughest running backs I’ve ever seen. Ugh. This one hurts,” wrote editor Marcus Mosher.
“One of the best short-yardage running backs in NFL history,” he said in another tweet.