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End of an era? Bears put LB Lance Briggs on IR with groin strain

After seven Pro Bowl years and 12 seasons with the only franchise he’s ever known, Lance Briggs’ Bears career likely came to an end with a procedural move late on Black Friday.

The linebacker, who suffered a groin strain on Sunday against the Buccaneers, was placed on Injured Reserve, ending his season. Briggs had said only Tuesday that he anticipated returning this year. The strain, however, likely would have taken a few weeks to heal.

“Not exactly how I planned it, but I love & appreciate EVERY FAN that has shown love or supported me through your tweets today!” he wrote an Twitter.

Earlier this month, Briggs admitted the obvious: that this was likely his final season in Chicago because the Bears would not re-sign him once the final year of his three-year, $17.5 million contract expired.

“I understand this is probably my last year as a Chicago Bear,” he said Nov. 5.

He said that it was “not like I’m magically going to show up after this year and they’re going to open the gates up for me.”

Briggs would leave the franchise as one of its truly excellent modern players. Only four players have started more than Briggs’ 170 games: Walter Payton, Olin Kreutz, Brian Urlacher and Mike Singletary.

Briggs led the Bears in tackles in five seasons, totaling 1,564 during his career.

He totaled 100-plus tackles from 2004-12 before struggling to stay on the field the last two seasons, appearing in 17 total games.

He began this season with controversy, missing the Monday practice of the first week of the regular season to attend his barbecue restaurant’s opening in Northern California.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley