CHICAGO -- Before you look askance at Bears linebacker Lance Briggs for his vehicular mishap, remember that similar unlucky breaks can befall any of us.
Before you look askance at Bears linebacker Lance Briggs for his vehicular mishap, remember that similar unlucky breaks can befall any of us. Why, remember the time you left your bible-study group at midnight, popped into the children's hospital for an impromptu do-gooder visit, and then sipped lemonade with the rest of your late-late-night Scrabble club? Remember how you yawned, thanked everybody for the lovely evening, climbed into your 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster LP640 and left? Remember how careful you were? It had gotten to be 3 a.m., and you wanted some shut-eye before your work day was to begin in a few hours, but you still wouldn't exceed 55 mph -- no matter how fast your 640-horsepower, $353,400 vehicle tried to pull you. Remember how you saw an injured puppy along the side of the highway, hit the brakes, lost control and slammed into a light pole? And, you knucklehead, remember how you left the scene and phoned in a bogus 9-1-1 call saying some lout had swiped your vehicle before you finally fessed up? See? We all make mistakes. Given that, then, why would you or any other sober, sane citizen question Briggs' explanation of the events of Monday morning's wee hours? "When it happened, you know, the first thing I did was, uh, you know, obviously, I panicked," he told the dastardly, doubting media Tuesday at Halas Hall. "You know, I mean, I didn't want there to be a big scene there, you know, and ... I also was startled and I called 9, uh, and I, uh, called and reported my car stolen. And um, you know, probably within probably 10 minutes ... I called back and took the responsibility for what I did, you know? Because it was ridiculous in the first place, you know what I'm saying?" Yep, even with all the "uhs" and "you knows" as he searched for excuses -- I mean, sincere words -- we know what he's saying. The whole thing WAS ridiculous. Most ridiculous of all: Some folks actually have had the temerity to speculate that noble Sir Lance might have been impaired when he got behind the wheel of his Lamborghini. That line of questioning so burned Lovie Smith's biscuits, you'd have thought the Bears coach had been asked about Rex Grossman's aversion to error-free football. "Now how do we get to that part? We have a one-car accident, and now alcohol is involved?" Smith asked the inquisitor. "I think that's stretching it a little bit." Absolutely. If skeptics stretched it any more, it would be Silly Putty. A pro athlete enjoying a few belts before zooming off in his 12-cylinder Italian sports car? Absurd! An NFL player thinking he's above the law? Yeah, as if Tank Johnson wasn't an isolated case. A coddled celebrity desperately trying to avoid the detection of alcohol or other ingested substances? What in the name of the Original Whizzinator are the negative nellies implying? A cynic might say Briggs -- who had refused to talk to the press for months -- was only now facing the vultures so he could get out in front of his 9-1-1 deception before it became public knowledge. An intelligent sports consumer, however, simply realizes that good linebackers often must adjust on the fly. Hence, Briggs' fancy footwork with the facts. Now, of course, busybody commissioner Roger Goodell is looking into the matter. Why can't he just accept Briggs as the upstanding citizen Smith, Bears president Ted Phillips and GM Jerry Angelo know Briggs to be? Just because a guy crashes, runs and lies to the police, it doesn't make him a dishonest man, does it? It would be just like Sheriff Goodell to suspend Briggs for the regular-season opener at San Diego. Doesn't the commish know there's an unbeaten Super Bowl season at stake? Doesn't he know Briggs now is cooperating with police after getting ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor? Doesn't he know reports that Briggs had been clubbing on the night of the incident are unsubstantiated? And doesn't Goodell realize that gallant Sir Lance -- like so many troubled athletes before him -- has seen the light for now and forevermore? "It did change me, absolutely," Briggs said. "I'm very lucky to have made it out the way I did, you know? Very lucky. The first thing I did when I got back here was hug every one of my teammates and tell them I love them ... because you never know what's going to happen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." No, Lance, thank you -- for helping us see the good and bad in each of us. I won't speak for anybody else, but I know I'll be ever more careful the next time I drive my Ferrari home from a 3 a.m. charity bake sale. Mike Nadel (email@example.com) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.