Yet there he was last Saturday night, wearing his familiar No. 55 and an orange C emblazoned on his midnight blue helmet as he came out of the tunnel at Soldier Field.
But we in the media have no idea why he ultimately backpedaled and ended his holdout just before training camp convened in Bourbonnais. Briggs has declined to answer questions from the press ever since he signed his $7.2 million franchise tender, which means that Bears fans have also been kept in the dark. Granted, few of them truly care so long as he's cracking heads on Sundays just like he always has, but inquiring minds want to know.
And since Briggs sprints away from sports writers faster than he sprints toward enemy ball-carriers these days, we are forced to speculate.
Maybe he missed the camaraderie with his teammates. Maybe he wants another chance at the Super Bowl with perhaps the best defense in the NFL. Maybe he is now interested in signing for the long term. Maybe he isn't worried about playing in Brian Urlacher's shadow anymore. Maybe he feels he owes something to the fans that have unconditionally supported him.
Or maybe it was just about the money.
Since Briggs is staying true to his monk-like vow of silence, we simply can't say for certain.
Now comes the news that he wrecked his Lamborghini in a one-car accident on the Edens Expressway in the wee hours Monday morning. The vehicle was found by authorities near the Devon Avenue exit at 3:14 a.m., but Briggs was nowhere in sight. The two-time Pro-Bowler fled the scene of the crash, which is a miracle in itself considering the Italian roadster sustained upwards of $100,000 in damages.
Briggs reported to work at Halas Hall a few hours later, but he was once again in no mood to talk to reporters. He was MIA during a scheduled open-locker-room session for the media from 12:15-1:00 Monday afternoon, and then he ducked out early before the press was allowed access to the field for post-practice interviews. Later that afternoon, he was charged with a misdemeanor, issued two citations, and released after posting $100 bond.
Head coach Lovie Smith simply wanted his star linebacker to straighten things out in the eyes of the law.
"I've talked with Lance," Smith said after practice. "I feel good about what he's told me. Right now we're going to let him deal with the authorities, and we'll go from there."
Smith also said that Briggs would not be disciplined because he had not broken any team rules.
Still, we are forced to speculate.
Why not call the police right away? How did the accident actually happen? Why did he leave the scene?
And those aren't even the tough questions.
Why was he out at all hours of the night in the first place? Had he been drinking? Was he racing another high-performance vehicle?
Smith, on the other hand, felt that assuming Briggs was up to some misdeeds was altogether unfair and jumping to conclusions.
"Now how do we get to that far?" Smith irritably questioned. "We have a one-car accident, and now alcohol is involved? I think that's stretching it a little bit to go that far."
But are we really going that far?
Since Briggs refuses to tell anyone exactly what did happen, it's only natural to form a hypothesis based on the evidence we do have.
Here's one possible scenario:
Maybe Briggs was driving the speed limit. Maybe he was on his way home from a 24-hour library. Maybe the only thing he had to drink that night was some Vitamin Water that Urlacher gave him. Maybe a crazed gang of Green Bay fans had been staking out the Lamborghini and ran him off the road. Maybe he bolted the scene so he could find the nearest church and thank God that he was somehow still alive.
Possible? Absolutely. Probable? Absolutely not.
Now try this one on for size.
Since a Lamborghini is one of the fastest street-legal cars on the planet, maybe Briggs was recklessly speeding on a near-empty stretch of interstate. Since he lives in the northern suburbs and was headed north on I-94, maybe he was on his way home after being out at a downtown Chicago nightclub. Since people tend to drink alcohol when out at nightclubs, maybe he had a few too many cocktails in his system. Since a vehicle like that can easily get away from a driver whether he's impaired or not, maybe he lost control shortly before that overpass. And since he ultimately decided that calling the cops and waiting for help was a bad idea, maybe, just maybe, he realized that he was in big trouble and needed to exit stage left.
Possible? Again, absolutely. Probable? Fair or not, it's much more likely than the first story.
Briggs could have put an end to all of this at Halas Hall on Monday. The organization apparently asked him to face the music and address the media, but he refused. While he may be under no obligation to do so, subjecting himself to five minutes of tough questions would have been much easier than what he'll inevitably go through now.
As you'd expect, several Bears players suggested Monday that we in the press were blowing the story out of proportion, Of course, if Briggs would simply tell us what actually happened, perhaps we'd discover that this really is a non-story after all. Maybe there is an innocent explanation for all this.
Or maybe, just maybe, he has something to hide.
John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.