The upsetting news of the passing of former Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber still looms large in the football community. The 38-year-old was found dead in his Frisco, Texas, apartment two weeks ago. A cause of death still hasn’t been determined.
However, given Barber’s aggressive play style and the nature of the running back position, many wondered if CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) could be part of the cause of his death or the cause of the mental health issues he suffered after retirement.
According to the Boston University CTE Center, CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. It’s been found in several former football players due to repetitive hits to the head that occurs during games. Symptoms of having CTE can include difficulty sleeping, mood disorders, aggression, depression, anxiety, memory loss, confusion, and dementia.
Mike Webster, a former center for the Steelers, was the first NFL player diagnosed with CTE. With more research and knowledge about the disease increasing, several former players’ brains have been studied after death to see if CTE affected their lives. The same will not happen for Barber.
In a recent interview, Barber’s father, Marion Barber II, said the former Cowboys running back did not want his brain to be donated to CTE research despite being hospitalized for mental health concerns twice. The family is choosing to respect his wishes:
"“He was real specific in his will that he didn’t want that. We are going to respect that. But in the condition his body was in, according to the examiner, that probably would have been a moot point because of the decomposition.” – Marion Barber II"
More details emerge about the death of former Cowboys RB Marion Barber, including the decision NOT to donate his brain to CTE research
While it is understandable that the family wants to respect the man’s wishes, this certainly does seem like a prime situation where CTE research would be a wise idea. The former Cowboy seemed to present many signs of symptoms heavily related to the disease. Several teammates even expressed concern about his well-being months before his death.
Barber’s father also revealed other harrowing details about his son’s death to Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The body was found in the bathroom with the shower water running. A leak is what first alerted residents that he could be in danger.
Allegedly, the decomposition caused by the body being under hot water for a long period of time may make it hard for examiners to figure out the exact cause of death. However, police have made it incredibly clear that they do not suspect any foul play. Here’s more from the Pro Bowler’s father:
"“They are just using tissue as they dig further into the cause of death. They are ruling out things. They haven’t seen any trauma, no foul substances in his body. His lungs were in working order. The heart and veins around the heart were good. They are ruling things out. Right now, we are just waiting.”"
The running back’s younger brother got married on June 10, the day that would have been Barber’s 39th birthday, which postponed funeral planning a bit. Barber II told Hill Jr. that the funeral is set to take place in Minneapolis on June 22.