When I wrote yesterday that Lance Briggs came out in support of Matt Forte’s contract stance, one detail slipped past my radar:
I briefly touched up on this in my piece yesterday:
Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has expressed disappointment with the organization over contract issues a few times during his career with the team. After being hit with the franchise tag following the the 2006 season, Briggs stated that he was fed up with the organization’s treatment of its players. After empty threats of holding out, Briggs suited up for the 2007 season and was rewarded with a 6 year, $36 Million contract …
Honestly, it was an ugly period in recent Bears history that I didn’t want to delve too deeply into. Thankfully, Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation Chicago gave Briggs the verbal evisceration he deserved for attempting to rewrite the history of his contract battle with the Bears:
Now HOL’ UP a second there, Lance Briggs. Not that we would ever fault a productive athlete for trying to get as much money as possible, particularly in a sport like professional football where careers are short-lived and the impact of participation on one’s long-term health ranges from “hazardous” to “death-dealing”. And not that we’d ever defend the eternally thrifty business practices of the Bears, either. But seriously, Lance Briggs: the statement above isn’t exactly true.
The Bears are currently willing to give Forte a five- or six-year contract, just as they offered Briggs a six-year, $33 million deal in 2007. Briggs saw the offer and rejected it. The next day, or somewhere in that vicinity, he appeared on SportsCenter and vowed never to play for the Bears again after they stuck the franchise tag on him, a.k.a. the same thing that is currently keeping Forte away from offseason workouts.
Briggs would go on to sign the tag and play for the Bears. The next season, he tested the free agent waters and learned he wasn’t worth nearly as much on the open market as he figured. Briggs would sign a six-year, $36 million contract with $12 million guaranteed in ’08. Just like Forte, he was asking for $20 million up front, and threw a tantrum when the Bears didn’t give it to him.
If I recall correctly, Briggs went on a media tour bad mouthing the Bears whenever the opportunity presented itself. I was almost certain he’d never wear a Bears uniform again due to all the negativity he about spewing. Once he realized his market value was no where near the vicinity of his contract request, he tucked his tail in and accepted the Bears’ offer. Major props to Mr. O’Donnell for pointing out the fallacy that Briggs was attempting to spin.