Workingman's War Hero: Marion Barber III

September 23, 2008 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Look, if you're a Cowboys fan, I probably don't have much time for you. It's bad enough that you're a Midwesterner (or Californian) rooting for a Dallas team in football. Even worse is that the odds say you also cheer for the Lakers or Celtics in basketball, and the Red Sox or Yankees in baseball. Yeah, you're Bandwagon Boy.

I hate the Cowboys almost as much as Chaim Witz hates prophylactics, and that's saying something. But goddamnit, I saw something a few nights ago that made me respect them - well, that made me respect a player of their's. No, it wasn't Tony Romo. Sure, he's got a great story - small town boy goes undrafted and makes it big in the NFL, scores huge endorsement deals, and bangs celebrity gash that I could only dream about. Sorry Mr. Fancypants, it's not you. It's someone who talks quietly and carries a big stick, someone who knows what it's like to grow up with a chip on his shoulder. After all, life ain't easy for a boy named Marion.

Marion Barber III, MB3, The Barbarian. Jesus H. Christ, watching him run against Green Bay on Sunday evening made "it" move, it made a few drops of pee come out. Day-um, I hadn't see a dude bowl over defenders like that since Christian Okoye "made popcorn" out of hapless little men in Tecmo Super Bowl.

When the hell did this happen? Being a Hawkeye alum, I remember him killing us as a Minnesota Golden Gopher, splitting time with Larry Maroney. After leaving UM early to go pro, Barber was picked up in the 4th round by Dallas and was relegated to the role of a 3rd down back, or best case scenario, splitting carries with Julius Jones. Finally in 2007, Barber started seeing more carries and suddenly started leaving a trail of defenders in his wake, truly earning his nickname The Barbarian.

The amazing thing about his style is that he checks in at 6-0, 220 pounds, big for sure, but certainly no Brandon Jacobs or Jerome Bettis style behemoth bruiser relying on overwhelming size. As great as it is to watch (and there are plenty of highlights on YouTube), it's not just highlight tapes. Says Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, "He's one of the toughest backs in the league to bring down even though he's nowhere near being the biggest. You can't tackle that guy high because he'll run you over and he has that great stiff arm.''

Yeah, about that stiff arm. Can you really classify it as a stiff arm, or should you call it an open palm kung fu punch? Who said the facemask doesn't protect? Barber's stiff arm is so brutal, that the NFL has cracked down on using it as a weapon, loosely dubbed 'The Marion Barber Rule'. What did Marion have to say about it?
"I didn't even know. I'm going to have to read up on it. So you can't stiff arm at all? What about the throat?"
Do quotes get much better than that?

Honestly, the dude is strangely similar to Walter Payton. Both are/were not big backs, but played physically to the point where they were administering the hit, both possess amazing strength, both do the little things like pass blocking that contribute to the offense, and both have gone about their business in a workmanlike manner. Somehow Payton was able to play at that breakneck pace for a long career. Barber is just coming in to his own and is only now getting the bulk of the carries in Dallas. Whether or not his body can hold up to years of punishment is obviously yet to be seen. Yet for myself, and fans of the NFL, we'd certainly love to see him be more of a Payton-type runner than a tragic figure like Earl Campbell, who made so many great plays, but was used like a rented pack mule and burnt out too quickly. Thankfully for Barber, he has a solid backup in Felix Jones to take some of the workload, which should allow for us to see Barber plow through defenses for years to come.

It's just too bad he plays for Dallas.

Can we make an exception to The Marion Barber Rule when it's used on defenders like Guy LeDouche?