Wednesday's NFL: Ex-Cowboys RB Marion Barber dead at 38; Browns sign TE Njoku

Tom Withers
Associated Press

Frisco, Texas — Marion Barber III, the former Dallas Cowboys running back who scored plenty of touchdowns without recording a 1,000-yard season, has died, the team said Wednesday. He was 38.

Barber played a final season with Chicago in 2011 after spending his first six years with the Cowboys. He had issues with mental health after his career.

Cowboys running back Marion Barber III carries during the team's game against the Giants on Sept. 20, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Frisco said Wednesday they made a welfare check at an apartment “believed to be leased” by Barber and were investigating an unattended death there.

The Cowboys, who have their headquarters in Frisco, said they were “heartbroken by the tragic death of Marion Barber III.”

“Marion was an old-school, hard-nosed football player who ran with the will to win every down,” the team said. “He had a passion for the game and love for his coaches and teammates.”

Barber's father, Marion Barber Jr., played seven seasons with the New York Jets in the 1980s.

The younger Barber is fourth on Dallas' career list for rushing touchdowns with 47 after getting passed in 2021 by two-time NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott. He finished with 53 and never had fewer than four in any of his seven seasons.

The former Minnesota player, a fourth-round draft pick by Dallas in 2005, had 24 touchdowns in 2006-07 despite starting just one game those two seasons. Barber's career high was 14 TDs in 2006, when he rushed for just 654 yards.

Barber had a career-high 975 yards rushing and 10 TDs in 2007, when he made his only Pro Bowl. His role and production declined from there, and he had careers lows in carries, yards and touchdowns in his final year in Dallas in 2010.

Three years after his career ended, Barber was detained and taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Police in Mansfield, another Dallas suburb, said it wasn't clear what led to the calls that prompted their response.

Barber and his father both played for the Golden Gophers, and the younger Barber is second on the school's career list with 35 rushing touchdowns.

Barber and Laurence Maroney, a first-round pick by New England in 2006, were the first pair of NCAA backs to produce two 1,000-yard seasons in consecutive years on the same team. They did it in 2003-04.

Barber's younger brothers, Dom Barber and Thomas Barber, also played for the Gophers. Dom Barber spent four years as a defensive back with the Houston Texans.

Browns sign TD Njoku

Berea, Ohio — David Njoku has gone from wanting out of the Cleveland Browns to locking in with them.

Cleveland announced Njoku's four-year, $56.75 million contract extension on Wednesday, a deal that could take the tight end through the 2027 season.

A first-round draft pick in 2017, Njoku will be among the NFL's highest-paid tight ends without putting up elite statistics. He caught 36 passes for 475 yards and a team-high four touchdowns last season.

FILE - Cleveland announced Njoku's four-year, $56.75 million contract extension on Wednesday, a deal that could take the tight end through the 2027 season.

But the Browns believe the 25-year-old Njoku is just reaching his prime and could be on the verge of a breakout, which is why they invested in him.

"We are pleased to secure David Njoku’s presence in Cleveland with this extension,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said. “David’s multifaceted skill set in both the run and pass game is a key component of our offensive system. His ability to generate explosive plays with his athleticism, speed and run-after-catch ability along with his productivity as a blocker on the line of scrimmage is a difficult combination to find in a single player.

"We’ve seen David grow throughout his time here and are excited to see his best football over the next several seasons.”

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Two years ago, Njoku demanded to be traded after the Browns signed free agent Austin Hooper and drafted Harrison Bryant. The team didn't oblige and Njoku had a change of heart last year.

“I love it here to the core,” he said late last season. “I honestly want to be here for the rest of my career.”

In five seasons, Njoku, who played collegiately at Miami, has 148 receptions for 1,754 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had his best season in 2018, when he finished with 56 catches for 639 yards.

House Oversight Committee invites Goodell, Snyder to appear

Ashburn, Va. — The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder to appear at a hearing later this month as part of the Congressional investigation into the team’s workplace conduct.

Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi said Wednesday they sent letters to the league and team requesting the presence of Goodell and Snyder on June 22.

FILE - The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder to appear at a hearing later this month as part of the Congressional investigation into the team’s workplace conduct.

It was not immediately clear if the committee expected either to make an appearance. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had received the invitation “and will respond directly in a timely manner.”

McCarthy added, “The NFL has cooperated extensively throughout the Committee’s lengthy investigation of the Washington Commanders, including by producing more than 460,000 pages of documents and responding to numerous questions in writing and in conversations with the committee’s staff.”

Messages sent to representatives for Snyder and the Commanders were not immediately returned.

Congress launched an investigation into the organization’s workplace culture in October after the league declined to release a report last year about an independent review it oversaw, which led to a $10 million fine. The committee described the upcoming hearing as the next step in the investigation and said it will examine how the NFL handles allegations of workplace misconduct and how it sets and enforces standards for all teams.

“We must have transparency and accountability, which is why we are calling on Mr. Goodell and Mr. Snyder to answer the questions they have dodged for the last seven months,” Maloney, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement. “The hearing will explore how Congress can act to prevent employers from silencing victims of workplace misconduct and ensure that what happened at the Commanders organization does not happen again.”

Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, said the committee has been stonewalled for seven months by nondisclosure agreements for former employees and other tools “to evade accountability."

Snyder in the summer of 2020 hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate allegations of workplace misconduct after several former employees made assertions about the work environment. The league took over control of that investigation, which concluded last summer.

Congress has urged Goodell to release a written report of the investigation. The league has said repeatedly it has no plans to do so.

Lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former team employees, said in a statement Wednesday they were pleased to see the committee invite Goodell and Snyder to appear.

“We hope they will demonstrate the same courage as our clients and agree to testify,” they said. “Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell have a lot to answer for.”

When asked about the situation after the latest Commanders offseason workout, coach Ron Rivera declined comment.