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Chris Dufresne

Silent Barry: Making the Wrong Move

July 13, 1986|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Every now and then, a guy blows a fuse upstairs and makes a rotten career decision. It can happen to anyone. McLean Stevenson left "M*A*S*H" for "Hello Larry." Patton slapped a soldier. Peter Frampton made another album. McGovern ran for President.

You can add to the list Silent Barry Redden of the Rams.

Now Silent Barry, who doesn't talk to the press, his coach, the neighbors or mailman, apparently feels that the whole world has dumped on him.

You see, five years ago he was believed to be the running back for the Rams, being a first-round choice out of Richmond College. Of course, that was until one of those one-in-a-million guys, Eric Dickerson, swaggered into camp a year later.

Silent Barry was, well, speechless, kind of like every first baseman in the Angel farm system right now. The Rams went to a one-back offense and handed a complimentary bench-warmer to Redden.

Life was a drag. The sun wouldn't shine for Silent Barry; flowers never bloomed.

But that changed in the spring of 1986, when Ram Coach John Robinson doodled on a scratch pad and came up with a two-back offense in which Silent Barry would not only play, but would start.

"We plan on using a variety of formations geared around the talents of both Eric Dickerson and Barry Redden," Robinson said.

Did you hear that! After all these years . . . And Barry Redden! You would have thought Silent Barry to be overcome with joy, if not words.

The Rams wanted to tell him all about this new plan, but couldn't even get Silent Barry on the phone back home in Florida. They tried Redden's toll-free number, 1-800 B-R-O-O-D-I-N-G, but that didn't work either.

Redden's agent couldn't even find him.

Silent Barry wasn't swallowing what the Rams were feeding him. Hey, didn't they tell Dieter Brock he was going to throw a lot last season?

But the Rams promised to unveil the Redden Offense at mini-camp in May.

So guess who doesn't show up to his own party?

Bad career decision.

There are three things a good Ram should never do:

1) Make fun of owner Georgia Frontiere's hair.

2) Tell Jack Youngblood jokes in the locker room.

3) Make John Robinson mad.

Last year, tight end Mike Barber walked into Robinson's office one day and wondered if he might become more involved in the Ram offense. Later that day, Barber bought a plane ticket to Denver and became more involved in the Broncos' offense.

In past years, Redden was just strangely quiet, a loner who would avoid even looking you in the face. Now, he's becoming an attitude problem.

Robinson doesn't like malcontents. When Redden didn't show up for mini-camp, the coach responded by trading for New York Giant fullback Rob Carpenter.

What Redden wants from the Rams, of course, is a trade. And he's probably going to get it. But he's handling the whole thing wrong. He thinks he's a starting back in the NFL, and maybe he is. But, through no fault of his own, he's never had the chance to prove it.

Last season, during Dickerson's 47-day holdout, Redden had a chance to show what he could do, but pulled up lame in the season opener with one of a series of nagging injuries that have plagued his career.

Well, now Redden has another chance, but he has chosen to sulk in a corner rather than face the challenge.

Last week, Redden broke his long silence and met with Robinson at Rams Park. Word is that Redden still wants to be traded but probably would report when camp opens at Cal State Fullerton later this month.

Silent Barry is only 25. There are plenty of good years left. He's also a bright man with a degree in psychology, of all things.

If Redden were smart, he'd show up to camp with a different attitude. He'd come in kicking and fighting for the starting job. If he were wise, he'd loosen his lips, have a few laughs and have the best year of his life.

At least then he'd have something to throw on his resume. But all he's doing now is adding to his growing reputation. And glowing it isn't.

It's never too late to turn things around. Careers have been revived before.

Someone should tell Redden the story about a guy named Ronald who once was an actor. He played opposite a chimpanzee in the movie "Bedtime for Bonzo." They all said it would be the end of him. . . .

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