[Ed Note]: BTB will be running a series of posts over the next few weeks highlighting some of the articles in the new Maple Street Press Cowboys Annual that is on sale now. 112 pages, full-color photos and tons of articles about the and the upcoming season at only $9.99. I encourage everybody to purchase one, we get a little extra when they are bought online
Today's feature article is by our own KD, here's KD with the set-up for the article.
[KD] One of my favorite parts of being a sports fan is following the drama of everything. I'm not talking the over sensationalized, concocted storylines that so many media outlets have taken to these days. I'm talking the real life drama produced by the blood sweat and guts that go into trying to win every Sunday. Football is entertainment on numerous levels, woven together into neat 3 1/2 hour packages on display weekly. The drama is what invests us in viewing, and a fan is always able to find them within the context of the Cowboys. This past off season, on the heels of a disappointing 6-10 campaign, had a different tone to it for Dallas.
At the time this piece was penned, the Cowboys weren't able to make any personnel moves, but the writing was on the wall. They were going to have to say goodbye to several players that they had gone to war with; some more battle tested than others. Among the more obvious cuts coming was that of a player that embodied the fighting spirit we expect from our players. Those fans that only remember the final image might not appreciate what he formerly brought to the table; but the Cowboys had to say goodbye to one of the game's fiercest warriors. A barbarian even.
Excerpt from Leave A Candle Burning: Hot Offseason Topics
The Right Time And Way To Say It...
"What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one's faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one's memories." - W. Somerset Maugham
Nobody wants to admit that they can't cut it any longer, but several Cowboys players may be hearing as much. A drop-off in an individuals performance can affect the entire unit. If you aren't able to correct those deficiencies, you run the risk of being replaced. It's hard to say goodbye to yesterday, but we may have seen the last of a true warrior, Marion Barber, in his Cowboys uniform.
A true football barbarian deserves a better send off than the snazzy, 140 words or less of a Twitter rant. With varying degrees of tact, regular Joes voice their concerns over a player's performance at every opportunity. The players are getting millions of dollars to play the game and the fans are funding it. A paying customer has every right to evaluate the product they've purchased. Even so, the immediacy of our society doesn't always capture the prior contributions of these players. It focuses on the here and now, but there is normally a reason why the team has stuck with those players, sometimes beyond serviceability.
Marion Barber's tenacity is the stuff of legends. In the years since Jerry Jones purchased the club, the Cowboys have never had a back run as violently as Barber. He'd often break through to the second level of the defense, then seek out a defender so he could initiate a confrontation. Barber's style was old-school NFL football. Sure it's great to be nifty, but football is for gladiators that yearn brutality. That's a notion lost on current NFL players, something that could be placed at the foot of the ‘safer NFL' rulebook changes.
A 2005 fourth round selection, Barber was everything the back he was brought in to compliment (Julius Jones) wasn't. Where Jones put his head down and ran up the backs of his linemen, Barber burst through the seams and willed himself to extra yards. He scored a team-high 16 touchdowns in 2006, 14 on the ground. His stiff arm game was so vicious, the league made special note of it's use and named it's illegality ‘The Marion Barber Rule'.
His signature memory will be known as one of the greatest two yard runs in the history of the league. Against New England in 2007, from their own 10 yard line, the Cowboys line was overwhelmed. Barber was hit at the five but spun out a tackle at the two, then shrugged off another two tackle attempts. He then raced the width of the endzone evading another four defenders, willing his way not only out of a safety but back past the line of scrimmage.
No one can run that violently for an extended period of time. A running back's lifespan is shorter than all other positions according to the NFL Players Association. Today's defenders are stronger and hit much harder than yesteryear's counterparts, exacerbating the wear and tear on a runner like Barber. The signs of decline started showing themselves, and the seven year, $45 million contract he signed in May of 2008 now seems to have too many years remaining. In fact, there was some speculation Barber would be released going into the 2010 year, as there was no salary cap to be concerned with.
Barber has suffered numerous lower body injuries. There was an injured toe in '08, a strained quad plus a thumb injury in '09. This past season was a calf injury. His snap count has dwindled over the past three years. From 720 in 2008, down to 581 in 2009 and a all-time low 292 in '10. He was already losing carries to Felix Jones, and with the selection of DeMarco Murray in the 2011 draft, it appears this offseason will be the right time to say "it" to Marion The Barbarian Barber III.
This is just a 650-word excerpt from a much more comprehensive 3,500 word article that you will find in the 2011 Cowboys Annual. If you thought we covered every aspect of Cowboys football here on BTB, wait until you get your hands on the magazine. - KD