LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- An NFL spokesman said the league is working with the Chicago Bears regarding a media availability problem with running back Marion Barber, who finally addressed the media on Thursday, although his interview was limited to two reporters.
Barber made two key mistakes that led to the Bears' 13-10 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but he wasn't available for interviews after the game, as is his routine. The NFL warned Barber on Wednesday about his failure to comply with the league's 2011 media relations policy, and the team instructed Barber to answer questions on Wednesday from the Chicago media. But Barber was a no-show in the 45-minute open locker room period prior to practice, and he refused to stop when approached following the Bears' indoors workout at the Walter Payton Center.
While Lance Briggs addressed the media on Thursday, the reporter from the team's official website and one from the flagship radio station were picked to interview Barber. Over an hour after the two met with Barber, the organization emailed the quotes to the general media.
"I'm looking forward to this week," Barber said. "Practice yesterday, guys are really excited about this next week, and that's really what it's all about.
"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."
With Denver out of timeouts Sunday and the Bears clinging to a 10-7 lead, Barber inexplicably stopped the clock when he ran out of bonds on a second-down play out of the two-minute warning. That gave Tim Tebow and the Broncos extra time to stage a last-second, game-tying drive. Later, Barber fumbled in overtime to set up Denver's game-winning score.
"I'm all about this," Barber said. "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."
When pressed on running out of bounds, Barber continued to avoid the subject.
"I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but I just move on," he said. "Just bear with me."
Under the guidelines of the NFL media policy, players must be made available to the media following every game and regularly during the practice week. It is not permissible for any group of players to boycott the media.
Barber addressed the Chicago media just one time upon signing with the Bears in free agency, answering fewer than five questions before walking away following a training camp practice in August.
"I've been like this all my life," Barber said Thursday. "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 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."
NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said the league is "working with the Bears to resolve this matter."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.