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updated: 9/4/2014 12:24 PM

Imrem: Bears, Briggs serve up some controversy

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  • Bears linebacker Lance Briggs went on the offensive Wednesday when discussing his excused absence from Monday's practice.

      Bears linebacker Lance Briggs went on the offensive Wednesday when discussing his excused absence from Monday's practice.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Lance Briggs restaurant drama officially reached gate status Wednesday afternoon.

You know, as in Watergate or Monicagate or AnythingRelatedToBushOrObamaGate.

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Please, don't get me started on these Wikipedia entries on the subject: Toiletgate (chess), Strippergate (San Diego) and Brothelgate (Ireland).

The NFL already has the likes of Bountygate (New Orleans) and Spygate (New England), though Tunagate (Canada) has nothing to do with Bill Parcells.

In the food category that we're plunging into here, Pastygate is explained as "Controversy in March/April 2012 around the taxation by the UK Government of hot snacks such as pasties … "

So now we're back to the Bears and pondering whether to call it Briggsgate, BBQgate or the all-encompassing Booboogate.

Maybe you heard that Briggs received permission to take a personal day and skip Monday's practice.

Maybe you also heard -- though apparently Bears management didn't until after the fact -- that Briggs went to California for the opening of his Double Nickel barbecue restaurant.

No, the Bears' veteran linebacker didn't have a family tragedy to attend to, a legal matter to clear up or even a yearning to sleep in until noon.

Instead, Briggs flew across country for a restaurant opening.

This was odd considering the workout was the Bears' first with their 2014 roster leading up to Sunday's season opener.

Odder was the indication that head coach Marc Trestman granted the day off without asking why it was requested.

Oddest was that Briggs -- the heart of the Bears' defense if Peanut Tillman is the soul -- went on the offensive with the media.

Briggs invoked his 12 years of pouring his heart on the field "every game and every play" and saying that "my history has always spoken for me."

Look, this wasn't a big deal until some of these details finally came out, like the communication gap between request and permission.

The media made it a big deal anyway because these are the Bears and everything is a big deal and every question must be asked.

Like, would Trestman have granted the day off if he knew it was to fly two time zones away to open a restaurant instead of to visit an ailing grandmother?

Would it have mattered if the new eatery featured Korean fusion cuisine, or fish and chips, or a full-service salad bar with tri-colored beets?

Would Trestman have liked to know whether Briggs flew commercial or charter and wore a necktie or bow tie on the flight?

Inquiring minds want to know, and the one thing we know about the thoughtful Trestman is that he has an inquiring mind.

While Briggs was a defensive player on the offensive Wednesday, Trestman sounded like an offensive guru on the defensive.

"Every decision we make," the Bears' coach said, "is in the best interests of the team."

So, coach, would you have let Briggs take off if you knew it was for the opening of a restaurant?

"I'm not going to comment on that," Trestman said.

The back-to-back news conferences -- first the player and then the coach -- smacked of limiting the damage.

All this is in addition to wide receiver Brandon Marshall being allowed to fly to New York to appear on a weekly TV show, though that at least is on a day off.

Really, neither Briggs nor Marshall are doing anything unusual in this era of multidimensional person-athletes.

But let's face it: If the Bears lose the opener to Buffalo, the perception will be that some of them aren't committed to football.

Meanwhile, if the Bears win and keep winning and wind up in the playoffs, it'll be because Trestman treats them like complete people.

You see, these gates can swing either way.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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