How Following Marion Barber's Lead Can Pay Off for the Cowboys

Thomas CasaleCorrespondent IJune 27, 2009

DALLAS - SEPTEMBER 15:  Running back Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter at Texas Stadium on September 15, 2008 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

During the Cowboy’s 12-year winless postseason drought, many different adjectives have been used to describe the Dallas teams of recent years.

Lifeless, heartless, no leadership, no passion, no desire, and dysfunctional are just some of the terms used to depict the Cowboys lately, and to be honest, most of the time it’s been justified, especially after last season’s debacle in Philadelphia.

If the Cowboys' plan on changing their recent history and winning their first playoff game in 13 years, the team needs to take on the characteristics of a player that already calls Dallas home.

There is one Cowboy that lines up and plays every single down like it’s his last. He plays with heart, passion, toughness, desire and courage. He puts his body on the line for four quarters and does whatever it takes to help his team win.

That player is Marion Barber.

Don’t get me wrong, there are other Cowboys—such as tight end Jason Witten and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware for example—both who play with the same kind of mentality, but Barber is a warrior in every sense of the word.

If everyone on the Cowboys' roster played the way he did, what happened last season in Philadelphia would be a thing of the past, and this talented Dallas squad will finally start playing up to its potential.

Barber is an old-school football player, plain and simple. I know a reporter who used to work in Dallas, covering the Cowboys.

My friend told me that even with all the hype and circus-type atmosphere that surrounds America’s Team, it still doesn’t distract Barber. All he cares about is going out and doing his job every single day.

He said Barber is a quiet guy who actually seems uncomfortable in front of the media. Barber isn’t rude or anything like that, he just isn’t comfortable talking in front of big crowds or being in the spotlight. He would much rather be out on the field cracking helmets or running someone over.

Even in his spare time, Barber likes to be alone and play the piano. Think about that, Cowboy fans. After all the T.O. nonsense and Jerry Jones trying to play general manager, how refreshing is it to have one of your star players relax by going home and play the piano?

Barber is focused on and off the field. No one is concerned about him getting involved in a night club shooting or being somewhere he shouldn’t be at 4:00 in the morning. He takes his profession seriously and treats the game he plays with respect.

You would think anyone who gets paid millions of dollars to play football would act the same way but as we all know, that just simply isn’t the case.

If the Cowboys had more Marion Barbers on their roster the last two seasons, there is no way they would have zero playoff wins. They are just too talented a football team.

The problem with this team is between the ears. They need to get tougher, both physically and mentally, and there is no better guy to learn from than one of the toughest players in the NFL.

When I worked in New England, we traveled down to Dallas for the big Patriots-Cowboys showdown a couple of years ago.

Back then Barber wasn’t even starting yet (Why I still have no idea). That was the game where he had the amazing two-yard run where he actually ran 40 yards back into the end zone and basically stiff-armed the entire New England defense to avoid a safety.

After the game Patriots safety Rodney Harrison—one of the toughest players ever to put on a helmet—was asked about the run. He responded by saying that Barber was one of the Top Five running backs in the NFL.

Here was a guy that wasn’t even a starter yet and Harrison was calling him one of the best backs in football. You see, Harrison is all about toughness and respect, and Barber earned his respect on the field that day.

Not by how much money he was making or by how many endorsement deals he had, but by how hard he played.

Harrison actually said Barber was one of the toughest runners he’s ever tried to tackle. That’s pretty high praise right there.

For the past few years, all we’ve heard from the talking heads in the media is that the Cowboys don’t have any leaders. Well, some people lead by example. Barber isn’t going to talk a lot. He isn’t going to give big rah, rah, speeches before games.

What he is going to do is leave everything he has out on the field every single week. I can’t say that for a lot of the Cowboys I’ve watched over the last few years.

I see teams like the Steelers, Patriots, and Eagles acquiring their “type” of players, and I also see those teams competing for Super Bowls virtually every single year.

Well, it’s time Dallas create its “type” of player and what better prototype to use than Barber?

Getting rid of Terrell Owens was a good first step in Dallas but he wasn’t the only problem. The franchise was losing long before T.O. came to town.

This team laid down last year with a playoff berth on the line, so there are much larger issues at hand than just getting rid of one player.

But a new season is upon us and no one questions Dallas’ talent. The 12 painful seasons without a playoff win will all go away if the Cowboys can come together as a team and make a Super Bowl run in 2009.

The Cowboys just need to follow Marion Barber’s lead and good things will happen. Let him be the face of the organization and see where the bruising back takes them.

If all the Cowboys play with the same passion and intensity every week as Barber, the rest of the NFL is in for a rude awakening this season. If not, it will be 13 years and counting for America's Team and its fans.