For many players on the Oakland Raiders, this is their first excursion to London, and hopefully it'll be a trip worth remembering.
This Sunday the Silver and Black will serve as the "home team" as they face off against the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium for a Week 6 duel. It hasn't been the way the Raiders wanted to start 2018, but with a win this Sunday maybe they can get back on track.
It's not a typical game for either side, considering the Raiders are over 5,000 miles away from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and the factors that go into Sunday's preparation are a little abnormal. From Oakland to the East Coast, flights typically aren't longer than six hours, but the team's flight across The Pond was a little under 10 hours, and anyone that's traveled that far is aware that it's not the most comfortable place to get some rest; however, the players were well taken care of.
"I got the full bed, so it wasn't too bad," rookie defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. said Friday. "I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it was, but they made the flight really comfortable for us, and it was something we were able to get through."
"I slept for a very long time," wide receiver Amari Cooper added. "But I probably stayed up for the first three or four hours and then I slept the rest of the time."
Adjusting to the eight hour time change will take some getting used to, but with more rest and down time the players will be ready for Sunday's action. It's not every day you get to travel across the world though, and absorbing the world around them — in moderation — isn't an opportunity worth passing up.
See photos of the Raiderettes first few days in London in preparation for the Raiders Week 6 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
London has plenty of things to visit, and obviously the players won't have time to wander as much as they'd like to, but they plan on taking some time for themselves to explore.
"I am, I am really excited to be here, this is only my third time out of the country — or fourth," Cooper shared. "Two times in Mexico, and one time in Barbados, so you know I'm excited to be here. To see just the differences between America and Europe. I don't really have anything planned right now, but after this I'll think of some things."
Cooper — like many of his peers — is looking forward to experiencing the English culture, but he remains focused on the task at hand. This might be foreign territory, but the goal stays the same, and each player is handling the situation professionally. Everyone is on the same page in terms of the objective, and this is a business trip intended for one purpose.
"At the end of the day, this is a business trip," Hurst explained. "We're here to play football, so just try to keep our minds focused, and not have too many outside distractions."
"We're not here as long, but at the end of the day you've got to keep in mind it's a business trip," linebacker Tahir Whitehead reiterated. "We're here to play a game, we're here to go out there against the Seahawks, and play a football game. You can't get caught up with the sightseeing and get distracted so to speak, but while we're here it's good to kind of take advantage of it and get out."
The atmosphere at Wembley will be unique, and while I expect there to be a handful of Raiders fans, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a variety of jerseys from other teams walking around the stadium as well.