No apology comes from fledgling restaurateur Lance Briggs
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter September 3, 2014 9:53PM
Updated: September 4, 2014 12:38PM
Lance Briggs called this season “extremely important,” then stated the obvious:
He might not be here much longer.
“You never know,” he said. “This is the last year of my deal, so every moment of every game counts.”
Moments of some practices, not so much.
The Bears linebacker hardly was apologetic Wednesday about missing Monday’s team gathering — “An hourlong practice,” he stressed — to open his namesake Double Nickel Smokehouse in his hometown of Elk Grove, California.
Then he revealed that, although he asked coach Marc Trestman for an excused absence three weeks in advance, he never told him why.
The two still haven’t discussed the reason, he said — meaning Trestman had to learn about it from someone else.
Briggs, clearly, didn’t think Monday’s departure was a big deal. He acknowledged that others might not feel the same, saying that “everybody is entitled to their own” feelings.
“The question that’s more important than that is, as a guy that’s over 12 years [in the NFL] that I poured my heart out on the field every game and every play,” he said.
“If you’re questioning whether I care more to be there than to be here, my history has always spoken for me.”
Here’s what he should have spoken about at the news-conference podium, though: that his absence wasn’t a football issue, but one of perception.
Briggs won’t miss a tackle in the season opener Sunday against the Bills because he was in Northern California six days earlier. But if the Bears struggle on defense — as they did in the preseason — his departure on the first day of the first week of the season will be even more scrutinized.
Briggs’ seven-time Pro Bowl career grants him the benefit of the doubt. Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel called him “obviously one of the best linebackers in the league” on Wednesday. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said Briggs needs to “just do his job,” and the team will be fine.
But rather than admit his absence might have looked bad, the linebacker tried to win his argument on points.
He said Mondays weren’t nearly as strategically relevant as practices on other days. Teams don’t install game plans until Wednesdays, anyway.
“You put in your first- and second-down [packages],” he said. “This is typical throughout the league.
“Your third-down and blitz package on Thursday and your short-yardage and goal-line stuff on Friday, and your review on Friday. Then you have a walkthrough and review on Saturday before you play the game.”
Of course, the Bears had Tuesdays completely off.
Why not just open the restaurant then?
“I didn’t make the decision,” he said. “My partner made the decision.
“It was Labor Day. “And on Labor Day, as you do know, most people do not work.”
Not to state the obvious, but his teammates worked. His coaches worked.
Trestman again avoided the fray, refusing to say whether he would have allowed the day off had he known Briggs’ reason was rooted in the barbecue arts.
“I always call it a personal decision, because I don’t think it’s my business — or anybody’s business from my end, from a player’s standpoint,” he said. “And every decision we make is made with the best interest of the team and a lot goes into that.
“I don’t know how it’s been interpreted. But I know that we think we give great thought in everything we do.”
Briggs, too, said that Trestman “just trusted” him and allowed him to leave the team.
“I asked him for a personal day — he said OK,” Briggs said.
“I guess my announcing the opening of my restaurant made bigger news than we kind of expected.”