Briggs charged with misdemeanor after crashing Lamborghini

 
 
Published: 8/27/2007 8:31 AM | Updated: 8/27/2007 7:23 PM

Although his 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago was discovered at 3:15 a.m. Monday morning abandoned and crashed against a light pole off the Edens Expressway, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs was still able to practice with the team Monday afternoon.

"We feel pretty good about that," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "To me that's a good day, when you know what type of accident occurred and to see him on the practice field."

Briggs was permitted to leave that field several minutes early, allowing him to not only continue his media boycott, but also to make an afternoon meeting with Illinois State Police officers, whom he had contacted by phone several hours earlier.

Briggs initially was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, Illinois State Police said. The Associated Press reported that Briggs, after meeting with police Monday afternoon, was also cited for failure to give immediate notice of an accident and improper lane usage, according to Master Sgt. Luis Gutierrez.

Briggs was released after posting $100 bond. He is scheduled to appear Oct. 4 in a Cook County court. Leaving the scene of a property damage accident is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Gutierrez said.

No one was in the car with Briggs, and no other vehicles were involved, Gutierrez said.

"As a result of interviewing Mr. Briggs, it was determined that he was the driver of his 2007 Lamborghini," police said in a statement released to news media.

Smith and Briggs spoke Monday before practice and the coach said he "felt good" about what he was told.

Smith didn't feel as good when asked if he quizzed Briggs about whether alcohol was involved in the crash.

"Now how do we get to that part?" Smith said. "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 coming on the same day that Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to federal dog-fighting charges, Smith acknowledged the potential for bad publicity for the Bears and the NFL.

"Is it concerning that an accident happened at 3 o'clock in the morning that we were involved in?" Smith said. "Yes. We would like for no bad news to come toward the NFL and, of course, our organization. As I see it right now, that hasn't happened. I don't think you should jump that far right now."

Asked for his feelings on players being out that late on the day of a practice, Smith said: "I would like for them to be in a little bit earlier than that, as you probably know. Next question."

What about disciplinary action from the team?

"Discipline for what?" Smith said. "For a one-car accident? No. He hasn't broken any team rules as far as I know, so there's no reason to ... again, we're jumping pretty far to assume something.

"At 3 o'clock, you would like for your players to be in. But beyond that, people out at those times of the night have not always been in trouble."

In Illinois, a driver's license can be suspended for leaving the scene of a non-injury accident that causes more than $1,000 in damage. If no one was injured, the driver does not have to take a blood, breath or urine test to detect drugs or alcohol.

The base price of the 2007 roadster is more than $350,000, but a WBBM (Newsradio 780) report, citing an unnamed source, put the special-edition model that Briggs drove at $600,000.

Some of the linebacker's teammates had only a few details about the crash, but they expressed relief Briggs was not injured.

"He said that he crashed his car or something," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said, "and I didn't have a chance to talk to him after that."

Briggs did not appear to have any injuries and was not limited during practice.

"He's here, he's healthy - thank goodness," defensive end Alex Brown said. "We can replace the car; we can't replace Lance, so we're glad he's OK. I'm just thankful he didn't hurt anybody or himself. We're happy to have him here."

Briggs has endured a tumultuous several months since the Bears' loss in Super Bowl XLI. He threatened to sit out the season after the Bears designated him their franchise player, guaranteeing him a $7.2 million salary this season but effectively keeping him off the free-agent market, where he probably could have gotten a long-term contract with a signing bonus in the $15 million to $20 million range.

Briggs boycotted all off-season activities and showed up to training camp two days late, although his play has not suffered. He led the team with 5 tackles in Saturday night's third preseason game.

"Overall, he's doing real well," said Jamar Williams, who played in Briggs' spot on the weak side during his holdout. "When that kind of car wrecks, I don't know how he can handle it, but so far he seems good."