Terence Newman was scared that his former Dallas Cowboys teammate Marion Barber might punch him the last time that they saw each other before Barber’s mysterious death.
Newman was in the middle of discussing the toll that football takes on the body — especially playing for a “mean-ass coach” like Bill Parcells — with Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com when he got the news of Barber’s death. Newman then told a harrowing story about seeing Barber about three years earlier, when he was driving to the gas station about a mile from his home, near where Barber was living in a high-rise building.
“I see this guy walking down the street — in the rain,” Newman said. “I get to the gas station and it’s Marion. I hadn’t seen Marion in a while, but I heard he had fallen on hard times and wasn’t doing too well. So, we talked and exchanged numbers, but I was scared when I saw him.
“He looked bad. He looked like he wasn’t there, like he was a different person, like he couldn’t function. And that’s probably why he was walking and not driving. When I tell you I was scared, I thought he might swing on me. I was actually scared.”
The 38-year-old Barber was found dead on June 1 by police conducting a wellness check. No official cause of death has been released.
But Newman expressed suspicions that it had to do with concussions and possible chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain disease that has been linked to the suicides of many former football stars.
“He had a look but also his face was just droopy,” Newman said. “It looked like he was homeless. Like he lived on the streets. I guess he had so many concussions that it really impacted him. … I think that had to play some type of role in whatever happened to him.”
Barber carried the ball 1,156 times during six seasons with the Cowboys and a last stop with the 2011 Chicago Bears. Newman was Barber’s teammate for that entire run with the Cowboys and ultimately retired after his 15th season in 2017.
Newman also mentioned a former Kansas State teammate, Jarrod Cooper, who was a “kamikaze” on special teams and led with his head to deliver big hits. Cooper has “advance stages of CTE and was bedridden for half of a month,” according to Newman.
“The guys who played the game like that — Junior Seau [and] the guys who’ve taken their own lives — if they were alive right now,” Newman said, “they would tell you to make it more of a finesse game.”