CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23: Linebacker Lance Briggs #55 of the Chicago Bears looks on late in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lance Briggs
In the middle of a six year, $36 million contract, he asked for a raise. He didn't get it, so like a petulant child taking his ball home after losing at kickball, Briggs wants to leave town.
Never mind that he negotiated and signed that contract, using the same "ask for a trade" ploy in 2007. Never mind that not long after that lack of a trade, the Bears stood by him as he crashed his Lamborghini on the Edens then ran from the crash. Never mind that Briggs' poor timing could derail the Bears' already difficult start to the season.
The Bears face three playoff teams to start 2011: Atlanta, New Orleans and Green Bay. They're going to need every bit of teamwork, leadership and defensive prowess to take any of those games. Those traits can usually be found in Briggs, the heart of the defense for the past eight seasons.
But now? This kind of demand less than two weeks before the season starts kills all that he has tried to accomplish while a Bear. Matt Bowen, a former Bear, wrote about what this can do to the locker room:
You want to get rid of the distraction and get back to football, your game plan, film study and everything else that goes into the preparation for an NFL Sunday.
Players in this league are accustomed to routines -- from schedules to playbooks to how they line up.
When that routine is broken, it is noticeable throughout the facility. You work around it on the practice field and in the meeting rooms, but it never really goes away.
It would be nice to just say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye (possibly with a choreographed song and dance) to Briggs, but it's not that easy.
The Bears are thin at linebacker, so a trade would need to come with an immediate replacement. What team would be willing to part with any starting linebacker, much less one of Briggs' caliber?
So this drama will drag on, and the Bears will have to prepare for the Falcons with a healthy dose of discord hanging over the locker room.