The Marion Barber era ended with a Marion Barber touch Friday. He's not just done with the Bears -- he's done with the NFL.
One day after the Bears signed Michael Bush to back up Matt Forte, Barber settled the matter of his future with the team by retiring at age 28, the Bears announced Friday.
Barber played his first six seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, rushed for 422 yards on 114 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and scored six touchdowns in his lone season with the Bears.
''I want to thank everyone who gave me the opportunity to play, and I'm very thankful to have had the chance to suit up for two of the NFL's most storied organizations,'' Barber told chicagobears.com, the team's official web site. ''I want to thank everyone who helped me become a better player.''
He finished his NFL career with 4,780 rushing yards (4.1 yards per carry) and 53 rushing touchdowns.
''I owe a lot to a lot of coaches,'' Barber said. ''And I am also very grateful to the owners and organizations I played for. Last, but not least, I want to thank the fans for the support and inspiration they gave me.''
Barber had a difficult season in 2011 after signing a two-year, $4 million contract with the Bears prior to training camp. He was injured in training camp, missed the first three games of the regular season and gained 52 yards on 17 carries (3.1 yards per carry) in his first three games.
He finally became a productive asset in the middle of the season, scoring four touchdowns in a five-game span and rushing for 63 yards on 10 carries against the Raiders.
But his finest moment was also his worst: In place of injured starter Matt Forte, Barber rushed for 108 yards on 27 carries against the Denver Broncos, but committed two devastating gaffes that cost the Bears a key victory: With the Bears protecting a 10-7 lead with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter, Barber was forced out of bounds to stop the clock. The Broncos regained possession with 56 seconds to play and rallied for a tying 59-yard field goal with three seconds to play in regulation.
The Bears were driving for a winning field goal in overtime, but after a five-yard gain to the Broncos' 33, Barber fumbled and lost possession. Tim Tebow again drove the Broncos to a field goal -- a 51-yarder by Matt Prater for a 13-10 victory. It was the Bears' third consecutive loss to drop them to 7-6. They finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
Barber was scheduled to make $2.0 million this season. The Bears signed Bush to a four-year, $14 million contract ($7 million guaranteed) on Thursday.