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Marion Barber's Brutal Style Comes To Inevitable Early End

An NFL RB without top-line speed can't be afraid of contact, but few took it as far as Marion Barber III.

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He didn't just accept the brutal hits that are a way of life for a player who makes his living between the tackles; he relished them. I've never seen a RB go out of his way to hit defenders like Barber did in his time in Dallas.

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He was a 5'11 220 battering ram of a runner and was one of the most effective "closers" in his prime. By the fourth quarter, opposing defenses wanted no part of Barber's take no prisoners, bruising style.

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Throughout Dallas' 13-3 season in 2007, Barber would seal away games in the fourth quarter, pounding players who had worn themselves out chasing the rest of the Cowboys high-powered offense around the field.

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No play better symbolizes Barber at his prime better than his two-yard run through the back of his own end zone against the New England Patriots that season:

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But while his brand of running was compelling to watch, it wasn't meant to last. There's a reason Emmitt Smith ended up breaking the all-time NFL rushing record: he knew when to give up on a play and go back to the huddle in one piece.

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Barber's star faded almost as quickly as it rose, and he rushed for less than 800 yards in his last two seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys and the Chicago Bears.

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He walks away from the game at only 28; hopefully young enough so that we won't see his name in the next wave of concussion-related lawsuits to come down the pipeline over the next decade.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.