With the signing of Michael Bush, word come from Chicago today that 28-year old RB Marion "the barbarian" Barber has decided to retire from the NFL. Barber was the quintessential power back in the NFL over his seven year career, delivering punishment rather than taking punishment. This style of play has ultimately led to his early retirement before the age of 30.
Barber has struggled with injuries over the last few seasons, one with the Bears and his first six with the Dallas Cowboys. He finishes his career without ever having crossed the 1,000 yard plateau in rushing, but he scored 53 rushing touchdowns during his tenure.
To say Barber was a hard runner might be an understatement. Barber is from a bygone era, and his shortened career proves that. Barber ran harder arguably than any running back of the last decade. Constantly lowering his head or shoulders to deliver punishing hits to would be tacklers. His style was exciting every time he touched the ball as he ran the ball like a wrecking ball.
Barber averaged 4.1 YPC for his career on his not too intimidating 5-foot-11 218-pound frame. All too often the term reckless abandon is used to describe football players, but that statement is more than fair in being used to describe Barber's style. Barber's retirement saves the Bears over $2-million dollars in 2012 cap space.
His one year in Chicago was marred by injuries and the game against the Denver Broncos which he will be most remembered. Barber who never seemed to run out of bounds for any reason, ran out of bounds at the most inopportune time in the game, keeping time on the clock. This in turn contributed to Tebowmania as the apparent chosen one led the Broncos on a last minute drive to tie the game that they would eventually win in overtime.
Perhaps the most damning statement of this early retirement may be found in the all too sad fact that running backs in the NFL have a short self life. Investing in backs long term may not be the smartest investment and could point to one more reason why the Bears don't feel safe in investing big money in Matt Forte over the long term.