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Bears’ Lance Briggs catching flak for skipping practice to attend restaurant opening

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Even though his absence from Monday’s one-hour practice was excused by the team — in a way — Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs nevertheless is catching a little heat over skipping out on working alongside with his teammates as they prepare for Sunday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field.

Instead of being at Monday’s practice, Briggs was in Elk Grove, Calif., to attend the grand opening of Double Nickel Smokehouse, a restaurant in which he is co-owner.

As for the timing of the opening, Briggs said it wasn’t his decision.

“Well, I didn’t make the decision (on the date),” Briggs said, as quoted in a Chicago Tribune report. “My partner made the decision. But it was Labor Day. And on Labor Day, as you know, most people do not work.”

Briggs posted several photos to his Twitter account of the restaurant opening, including one of himself posing under his jersey on the wall.

Briggs further defended his decision when addressing the media on Wednesday, indicating that Monday’s practice wasn’t terribly important as the installation of the game plan doesn’t come until Wednesday.

The linebacker, who is making $4.75 million in base salary this season, also used the work ethic he has demonstrated throughout his career to defend himself.

“As a guy who has been here more than 12 years, I’ve poured my heart out on the field every game and every play,” he said. “So if you’re questioning whether I cared more to be there than to be here, my history has always spoken for me. So you can take that how you want to.”

Briggs reportedly asked Bears head coach Marc Trestman for the day off but indicated on Wednesday he did not tell his coach the reason behind the request.

“He just trusted (me),” Briggs said. “It was trust. I asked him for a personal day. He said OK. I guess my announcing the opening of my restaurant made bigger news than we expected.”

Trestman, meanwhile, seemed to try to sidestep — or at least downplay — the entire issue when asked about it.

“I just stand by what I’ve said with each and every player who has missed a practice,” Trestman said. “And that is that I listen to what they have to say. I always call it a personal decision because I don’t think it’s my business or anybody’s business from my end. … Every decision we make is made in the best interest of the team. And a lot goes into that.

“I don’t know how this has been interpreted. But I know we think we give great thought into everything we do. We don’t shoot from the hip and make decisions at the spur of the moment.”

A player getting time away from the team to take care of a personal issue, such as being present for the birth of a child or attend to a family emergency, is one thing. To skip out on a team function, even something like a one-hour, early-week practice is arguably another thing altogether.

So long as the Bears are okay with it, though, it’s much ado about nothing. Although it certainly does not help the team set a good precedent for what is and what isn’t an acceptable reason to miss a day of work.

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