Bears running back Marion Barber refuses to talk to the media whether he runs for 108 yards and a touchdown or inexplicably runs out of bounds and fumbles. But his reticence to talk after doing both in the Bears' 13-10 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos is going to cost him.
Barber is expected to be fined by the NFL for violating the league's media policy after he declined interviews again after practice Wednesday at the Payton Center, the Bears' indoor practice facility.
Barber has rarely spoken to the media going back to his days at the University of Minnesota. Supposedly it's just because he's shy. Regardless, the NFL has a policy that requires players to be available to the media. And the NFL already had warned the Bears that Barber would be fined if he continues to violate the policy.
''There are things in place for that. That's the least of my concerns '' Bears coach Lovie Smith predictably said when asked if Barber should talk to the media. ''I assume most of our guys answer when they're supposed to and meet with you guys. But I've got other things on my mind instead of that.''
Barber became the focus when he made two costly errors in the loss to the Broncos. With the Bears trying to run out the clock with a 10-7 lead in regulation, he allowed himself to be pushed out of bounds on a five-yard run, saving the Broncos 30-40 seconds. The Broncos got the ball back with 58 seconds left and Tim Tebow drove them to a tying 59-yard field goal by Matt Prater with two seconds left.
Barber's 16-yard catch put the Bears near field-goal position in overtime. But he lost a fumble at the Broncos 33, setting up Tebow to drive the Broncos to a winning field goal.
If Barber had addressed the issue after the game like most professionals do, it would not still be an issue on Wednesday of the following week. Instead, the intensity has only increased to the point where the league has to get involved.
A Bears source said the team is working with Barber to become more comfortable talking with reporters, but it would be a long process.