The allure of traveling to jolly old England for a game was not all that to this team.
“I hated London, hated it,” receiver Kenny Britt said. “I hated it with a passion.”
Britt made the venture a year ago when he played for the Rams. To acclimate their players to the trip, the Rams traveled immediately after a game in Detroit and stayed for a week.
“I hated everything about it,” Britt said. “I hated the flight. I hated us being there so long. I hated the flight back. I hated the food.
“You can ask my wife the same thing, and she’ll give you the same answer.”
Was there anything he liked about it?
“Nothing,” he said.
The six- to seven-hour flight was among the least appealing parts of the trip to the players. The team is leaving after practice Thursday evening, arriving Friday morning, practicing late afternoon on Friday (London time) and then playing a game on Sunday.
Though they may have some free time on Saturday, there will be normal meetings and curfew so it’s not like they’ll have much time to venture out to see the changing of the guard or ride the London Eye.
“It’ll be interesting to see a place I’ve never been before,” tight end Seth DeValve said. “But I’d rather not be in a plane for 16 hours, or however long it is.”
“It’s a very long flight, a big time change with all the side effects that go with it,” said guard Kevin Zeitler, who also has played in London with the Bengals.
“I’m really not fond of planes,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “I’m trying not to even think about it.”
The Browns did charter a plane that will allow all players to lay down and sleep if they choose, but the length of the flight has nobody excited. Teams have two options for the game: They can go early in the week and try to acclimate to the time change, or go late and minimize the time change.
“The longer you spend, the more you acclimate, the more you have to acclimate when you get back,” Zeitler said. “I’d rather deal with it the way we are.”
Quarterback DeShone Kizer, who kept the starting job for another week, said his focus would be on preparing to make sure he doesn’t lose the starting job again.
“I’ll be figuring out how to try to win a game,” he said. “I hear we’re staying 40 minutes or so from the actual city, too.”
The distance will dissuade some players from going into the historic areas of London, especially with such a short trip. Before he tore his triceps tendon, Joe Thomas said the thought of walking and standing in a city with sore knees and hips and elbows and shoulders simply did not appeal to him.
If he saw anything, he said, it would be “the TV in our hotel room.”
Thomas, of course, will not make the trip, but his feelings are shared.
“Offensive linemen are routine-oriented,” center JC Tretter said. “We’re built to follow the same routine every week. We’ll get on the plane, get there, do our normal thing.”
Joel Bitonio made a trip during the summer to help publicize the game in London. This time?
“I can just focus on football,” he said.
This might not be what the NFL wants to hear from its players about these games. The league sees London as a possible expansion city, and the games there as revenue drivers and a way to spread the word about the NFL.
Players’ feelings about the travel and time change seem inconsequential given the league is playing four games in London this season.
“I can take a vacation there sometime in the future if I want to,” Tretter said.
Then there’s Britt.
“Will I get out?” he said. “No, I won’t get out. When I leave the country I don't leave the resort anyway. Last time my wife and daughter actually took a trip to Paris.
“Had a worse time there. It’s a long story, but it was all bad.”