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Bears Wed Aug 07 2013

It's a New Era for Lance Briggs

GB bears icon.png Lance Briggs stood between the sliding doors of an eighth-floor bedroom deck, which overlooked the beautiful Streeterville neighborhood landscape. Camera lights fixated on his iron jaw, which sported a thin layer of five o'clock shadow, and his wedge-like frame which gave off the illusion that he was holding up the downtown high-rise.

A production team frantically works behind Briggs to set up the next shot for the New Era Cap ad campaign, while the now-veteran linebacker focuses on how he would run through the next scene. Watching Briggs mentally prepare for a scene is almost as intense as watching him prepare for the next down on the field.

Briggs holds his coffee mug, stares out into the concrete landscape on a beautiful, sunny afternoon and takes a sip of his coffee. His director, who is assisting his camera operator, nods at Briggs with a wink -- that's the look he wants.

BriggsLookingOutdoors.jpg Briggs is no stranger to the New Era campaign, as he's been a figurehead in the league for the premier hat company for the past handful of years, including an ad from last season. This year's theme is a tip o' the cap to the fans, one representing each team, 32 of whom already have been chosen (the winner's names are not yet available to the public, per a New Era rep), while Briggs represents the Bears in the effort.

The 2013 theme was dubbed the "Speak With Your Cap Campaign," and it allowed for fans to Tweet in why they were the "ultimate fan" of their respective team by way of dressing the part. The promotion period ended May 17, and each of the chosen 32 were flown in to New York for a photo shoot back on June 1, and also will be featured in local ads.

It's a campaign in which thousands of fans participated, and one that captures the essence of the fan's relationship to the game, with images of tailgating in team colors to hospital visits for the sick. The National Football League and New Era have become synonymous with one another and its mission is to allow fans to express their passion for their team and city.

"The season starts with the number-one draft pick putting on that New Era cap as they walk up to the stage, and it ends with players putting on the New Era caps after winning the Super Bowl," said Paul Murphy, Senior PR Manager of New Era. "The campaign says you don't just put on the cap, you speak with your cap."

The scene for which Briggs was preparing spoke volumes; one without words, but more so with his look of preparation for game day. He is used to this look so no acting was necessary, as the seven-time Pro-Bowler has wreaked havoc on opposing offenses for the past 10 seasons, while racking up stats that include 12 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, 15 interceptions and 864 tackles in 156 games.

BriggsFilmCrew.jpgThere's no question of Briggs's effort on the field and belief in his team, just as there was no questioning of his belief in the New Era product. Most actors or athletes seem to go through the motions of showing up, speaking highly of the product and then cashing the check. Not Briggs.

"Everything that pertains to you is in your cap," said a giddy Briggs, during a break in filming, and whose smile was as wide as the brim on his Bears hat. "New Era is a cap we all love. When I was a lot younger, these were the caps that I wore. For me and my buddies, baseball caps were the pinnacle. So to get an opportunity to work with New Era, it was a blessing."

The comparison between the ad campaign and Briggs's day job is an obvious one: There's a "new era" this season for the line backing crew and Team Trestman. The offensive-minded new head coach replaces Lovie Smith after nine seasons with a change in play-making and attitude.

"Change comes," Briggs said. "I spent nine years with Lovie [Smith] and now we're in the Trestman camp. We're gonna take the new era with us."

Future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher retired during the offseason, thus making Briggs the new face of a position which has produced the likes of Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary to name a few. It's a heavy tag to carry, which now sets firmly on Briggs's broad shoulders. Not to mention, he now will be the go-to guy for grooming the future at the position, after the Bears drafted Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene in April.

"There's a ton that I learned from Urlacher, just about being a student of the game," Briggs said. "The bond that we created I think is rare in that two line backers get to play together as long as we had. The things I learned from him, I will continue to pass down as best I can to the young guys like Bostic and Greene and anyone else that comes through Chicago."

And just like in-between filming scenes for a 60-second commercial or between plays of the gridiron, Briggs uses that time to stay loose and learn from others around him. That's also something he took from Urlacher and plans to pass down to his fresh-faced teammates.

"It's about being a student of the game -- come to work, ready to work. Enjoy and respect the game," Briggs said. "If you smile, then smile; laugh and enjoy it the only way you know how. But when your number is called, then you need to be sharp."

Just then, the director and team enter the side room to inform Briggs it's time to film the next scene. It was time for Briggs to go back to work for New Era and finish yet another annual campaign and sell a product in which he believes. In a few days, Briggs would go back to work in Bourbonnais to usher in another new era, one in which he also believes.

 
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