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Lance Briggs

 StreetWise (USA) 06 January 2019

Chicago Bear Lance Briggs has a favorite comic book character who can read minds - not surprising for a linebacker who has surpassed 100 tackles for six consecutive years, including 135 last season. Briggs is the fourth linebacker in Bears history to have been selected for five consecutive Pro Bowls (2004-09). The Bears drafted him in 2003 from the University of Arizona, where he was three-time All Pac 10. (2236 Words) - By Suzanne Hanney and Ben Cook

Lance Briggs

Lance Briggs on the field for the Chicago Bears. Photo courtesy of StreetWise.

The 30-year-old Briggs has launched a comic book drive for Chicago Housing Authority kids because he says the genre makes reading fun for them. "Comics are often the first thing a kid will read voluntarily," he said in prepared material.

"Comics are creative: there's cool art and they're like a modern-day soap opera for kids and adults," he told StreetWise in a November 9 telephone interview.

Briggs will finish his comic book drive by appearing  11 a.m.- 6 p.m. December 11 at the   Comic Vault, 1530 W. Montrose. He also has launched a website,, to connect football and comic fans with comic book artists and creators.

Briggs hosts football camps for underprivileged youth in Chicago and his hometown of Sacramento through his foundation, Briggs4Kidz. On Monday December 13, he will appear at a holiday cocktail benefit from 7 -11 p.m. at 42 N Latitude Kitchen and Cocktails, 4500 N. Lincoln Ave.

SW: Looking at your career statistics with the Bears, it seems like you rarely miss a game.

But you are also at the top, or near the top of the tackles list. How do you keep from

getting injured while hitting that much?

LB: Playing football you never know. I've played through a lot of pain in my career, but luckily I haven't had any serious career-ending injuries or surgery. And you know a lot of it is luck as well - I've just been really fortunate to not have a lot of the same       injuries as other guys.

SW: What was it like playing in the Super Bowl?

LB: It was great, it was great. Playing in the Super Bowl was a week that I wish everyone could experience. It's the biggest sporting event in America, and you have people from different countries coming, and it's all really centered around your accomplishments. It's the biggest game in football.

SW: Given how the Bears are doing this year, what do you see happening in the


LB: I think our team will find a way to be a winning team - we're very adventurous, very savvy. We understand that we're quick, and we have guys that want to play. Once the playoffs begin, and we find out our part in it, we're going to fight tooth-and-nail all the way to the Super Bowl.

SW: What's the forecast on the next couple games?

LB: November's a huge month - it's the playoff run month. We have the Vikings coming up this week. We have the Patriots, Jets - we have a good stretch coming up. We play the Vikings again on Monday night, we play the Packers in Green Bay, Detroit… I think it's going to be interesting.

SW: So it sounds like this is the most challenging month.

LB: This month is, divisionally, going to be toughest we've had.

SW: How do you train yourself to play in the winter months? You guys don't really have

any form of warm clothing out there on the field.

LB: Well, there's only one way to play in cold weather - that's by practicing in it during the week. And then you got to bear down, and work through it. In most cases, home-field advantage goes to the teams who come from warmer parts of the States, and those teams that have domes to play in.

SW: Do you find there's an advantage for the Bears in playing cold-weather games

because they're more used to it?

LB: I don't think anyone ever gets "used to it." You just have to prepare for it. I know it's coming, so when it gets here I just got to play through it.

SW: So, when you stage football camps, do you have kids confide in you about being

scared growing up nowadays?

LB: When I talk to kids, they're mostly excited and want to talk about football. They have a lot of interesting questions like, "What's it feel like to get hit?" or "Who's your favorite player to play against?" or "Have you played against Michael Vick" or certain players. And they think it's really cool to get to hear about the guys that they hear about in their living rooms every Sunday.

SW: Let's talk about that: have you played against Michael Vick?

LB: Of course.

SW: OK, what was it like?

LB: It was fun. It was a very cold day in   Chicago in December. He was still playing with the Falcons at the time, and we won that game on route to the Super Bowl that year. It was a great all-around win for us.

SW: What are the kids like in the football camps? Are they fun, or are they there hoping

they can have a career in football?

LB: The kids are there to have fun. We try to make it as competitive as possible, starting with the warm-ups and drills, and when we do the seven-on-seven passing. Most of the kids are ear-to-ear smiles and are kind of google-eyed to be with professional athletes that they see on TV, and they just enjoy themselves. We open up Q&A, and the kids get to ask professional football players questions that they've always wanted to know.

SW: How old are the kids?

LB: The kids' age ranges from 8 up to 17.

SW: Are the 17-year-olds really trying for college scholarships and pushing you for tips

on how they can shine?

LB: Some of them definitely are. There's a high percentage of kids who aren't going to play football on the next level, but there are a select few who are. The one thing I always tell them is to remember the percentage of kids who play football in high school versus the percentage that play in college. And then the smaller percentage of the kids who make it from college to the NFL. It's important to recognize that the things you do now are going to affect what happens in your life afterwards.

It's so important for those people who love football to know that you can be around football, it's just you might not be on the field. You have to be realistic with yourself and follow your dreams. Following your dreams might mean being an agent, it might mean marketing for football players, being an event planner for a football team. That way you get to be around the sport that you love even though you're not quite on that field.

SW: So they do need to finish school?

LB: Absolutely. Finishing school is always important.

SW: What kind of support did your family give you when you were going through those

transitions between high school football and college, and then into the NFL?

LB: Both of my sisters were already in college, so my mom kind of understood the process. I was a pretty independent kid already - my mom had a lot of trust in me, and I felt responsible and accountable. She raised me that way. Going into college, I had it in my head that there is no way that I can go home and explain to my mom why I got kicked out of school. I could never face my mom to say that, so my motivation was to stay in school and excel.

SW: We see [from your website that] you were fascinated by X-Men when you were seven.

If you could be a comic book character, would you be one of the X-men?

LB: I think I would be The Professor [Xavier], being able to read people's minds. I wouldn't want to be some violent guy, some savage guy - just a smart guy who can read minds. Playing football, it would be nice to know what your opponent is going to do before they do it.

SW: What is it about reading comic books that helps children learn how to read?

LB: I think it's a combination of things. There's no pressure to be tested over what you read, no pressure to test what level of student you are. Comics are creative. There's cool art and they're like a modern-day soap opera for kids and adults.

SW: Tell us some more of your favorite comic book characters-then and now.

LB: I'm a big fan of The Darkness. It's a dark character for Top Cow comics. You know, obviously, I like Batman. I like another Top Cow comic called Hunter Killer. I think they have some of the coolest characters ever created. I like Spiderman and the whole Marvel family.

SW: Have you gotten to meet the creators of any of your favorite comics over the years?

LB: I met the creator of Top Cow comics, the creator of The Darkness. I've met a bunch of cool creators and artists. I went to the Comic book exposé here in Chicago over the summer, and I got to be on a panel with a bunch of artists and creators.

SW: When you did the writing contest for the kids at St. Thomas Elementary in Chicago,

what was the essay that they had to write about?

LB: Their favorite superhero or their favorite superpower. They also talked about what Christmas meant to them, and what going on this shopping trip meant to them. It was very touching.

SW: What do you like about Chicago?

LB: One thing you've got to love about the city of Chicago is that it's a hardworking city. In Chicago, they respect someone who doesn't cry about what they don't have or what could have been better - they respect someone who's out to play their heart out. Chicago has a champion to it with Chicago fans. You got all the sports here.

You can vacation in different places. When you go on vacation somewhere to the beach, you can have Mai Tai's in the sand. But here in Chicago, the vacation is: you can go catch Cubs or a White Sox game, and then you can go catch a Bulls game and a Bears game in the same week.

SW: What are your favorite foods to eat here in Chicago?

LB: In Chicago, I would say the steakhouses. I love lamb chops - I'm a huge lamb chops fan. You can't really go wrong out here. Chicago is by far one of the best steak house homes on the globe. Period.

SW: [On your web site] you talk about how you love to cook and you love to eat. What's

your favorite food to fix?

LB: I cook a lot of different meals. I make different pastas. I cook chicken in many different ways. I cook a lot of sauces. I cook appetizers. I make cheesecakes. It's hard to pick just one [favorite]. I range from seafood gumbo and jambalaya to - there's not much I'm not willing to try. I do a great glazed sweet salmon. I'm all over the place on food.

SW: You learned all this when you were a kid too, right?

LB: Yeah, my mom really put me in the right direction. She was definitely the first to show me around the kitchen.

SW: What was your major in college?

LB: I went from psychology and transferred over to sociology. I wish I would have stuck with psychology, as it was my first choice. Right out of high school, I thought about going and studying the culinary arts, but they weren't offering that at U of A[rizona] at the time, so my second choice was psychology. I think I might try to pick up some culinary school classes sometime here in Chicago.

SW: What are your long term career goals?

LB: For me there are a few things that I want to do that I know I'm good at that I'm looking forward to after football. I know I'm going to do commentary: I'm good on camera, I speak well and can articulate my opinions. Being a reporter or something along those lines is an option, and I'm working on that. I also love comics. I would love to be a writer or a creator, because that's just fun for me - that's pure fun, I don't see it as work. I would also love to coach kids - I just want to be involved.

SW: Will you be in Chicago for Christmas?

LB:  I believe we play the day after Christmas, so I'll be here with my girlfriend and my puppy, and be surrounded by my kids.

SW: Do you have something our readers should keep in mind this holiday season?

LB: For all of your readers and those who get a chance to catch this piece: you never know how many you're going to get. If you hold grudges or haven't spoken to somebody in a long time, utilize the holiday season to do something - even if it's just a text - to say happy holidays, or happy birthday, have a happy new year. Take time to say something heartfelt and positive, because it might mean more than a lot of us may know.

Originally published by StreetWise ©


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