As Lance Briggs approached the podium today in the Chicago Bears press room at Halas Hall, two members of the organization's media team were ushered from the press conference. After Briggs and Brian Urlahcer had finished addressing the media, we learned that Zach Zaidman (Chicago Bears Radio Network sideline reporter) and Larry Mayer (ChicagoBears.com), both paid employees of the club, left the room to speak with running back Marion Barber privately.
Barber has boycotted Chicago's media from the moment he stepped on the practice field during training camp. He made a brief media appearance a few days after signing with the team, saying he was in Chicago to play football, before walking away. Since then, he has not made himself available to the press. His teammates, all 52 on the active roster and all seven on the practice squad, speak to the media whenever requested to do so – even those on injured reserve talk. Barber is the only one who has refused to accommodate those that are only trying to do their jobs.
After running out of bounds late against the Broncos, then fumbling in overtime, two mistakes that essentially lost the game for the Bears on Sunday, Barber again refused to speak with the media.
The NFL learned of Barber's boycott and issued an official warning yesterday, saying he would be fined if he didn't speak to the press. The Bears media relations folks felt allowing Barber to speak with two team employees, satisfying the bare minimum to avoid a fine, was good enough.
RB Marion Barber
Don McPeak/US Presswire
As such, what follows is the squeaky clean transcript from the player whose two enormous gaffes late in the Denver game cost Chicago a victory last week:
How tough was last game?
"I'm looking forward to this week. Practice yesterday, guys are really excited about this next week, and that's really what it's all about."
You ran for 108 yards but made two costly mistakes late; your thoughts on last week's game?
"My thoughts on it is getting to this next week and just preparing as much as I can to be ready for this game of course."
When Caleb Hanie sat next to you on the bench at the end of the game, what did he tell you?
"I'm all about this. I'm ready to go today, tomorrow. Just make sure guys are ready to go this week and still have got the same type of enthusiasm and excitement for this game."
While you want to talk about this week, is it tough to put something from previous game behind you or do you just focus on upcoming game?
"That's all. (He's referring to upcoming game.) Anything else could possibly distract you. So for me personally, I'm just all about making sure I know what I'm doing this week and understanding the concepts for this week and understanding the protections for this week so I can be at my best."
One of the crucial plays last week was when you went out of bounds …
"I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but I just move on. Just bear with me."
Why do you stay so quiet?
"I've been like this all my life. Really high school I wasn't a guy to be in a TV interview, only when I was asked to do it. That's kind of something that I hope people will respect from me. It's not like I don't do it. I do do a few, but I believe because of the circumstances that took place, a lot want to know. But like I said, it's all about this week and doing what I can do to help this ballclub win."
Forget about us. What about your teammates; do you feel you have to say anything to them after a game like that?
"Even after that, guys here are great. That was blessing and that's what it's all about at the end of the day because that's who we are. I believe that being here even though it's been for this short period of time, the fellas in there, you've got some big dogs, ‘Lach, Briggs, the offensive line, and it's just great to have that [support] going to the next game with that on your shoulders, knowing that guys have got love for you."
Will it be hard for the team to shake off that type of loss?
"We've just got to go ahead and move on like I said and just learn from it and just go onto the next game remaining enthusiastic about finishing out the season strong."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.