Both teams are doing the trip non-stop from the West coast to London, which is about an 11-hour flight. The Seahawks will have a couple days to recover while the Raiders will have one day. According to Jon Gruden, he may need a lot more than a day or even a couple days.
“I don’t know. I hope I can make it, honestly. I’m not great. I get claustrophobic,” said Gruden. “My son was a weightlifter and he won a powerlifting competition in Belarus. I had to fly 14 hours. I had to fly home 14 hours. I had vertigo for a month. I couldn’t even lay down, the house was spinning. I am hoping I don’t get vertigo. I’m not a great traveler. I’ll be honest with you, I hate it. I’m not good. I’m concerned. I’m more worried about that than our goal-line offense right now.”
The Raiders made the trip to London back in 2014. That year they chose to play in New England the week before, then fly into London and spend the week practicing there. That allowed them to better acclimate to the game. Then they went out and looked terrible, but that was mainly because they were just a terrible overall team. Dennis Allen was fired after the game, and the Raiders went on to lose six more after that.
There are only two players from that 2014 team who will take the field Sunday. But there is one coach as well, and he is a savvy veteran when it comes to playing in London. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.
“I know it’s seven for sure, maybe eight,” Olson said of how many trips he’s made to London for a game. The last two of those games were while he was the OC in Jacksonville which has played a game in London every season since 2013, so this will be the seventh time Olson has played in London in his coaching career.
“I enjoy the trip, really. I think it’s good for team bonding. It’s good to get away for a little bit in a long season. I think it’s great this time in the schedule, Game 6, I think with the four preseason games it’s the half way part of the season. I think it’s a real good time for the team to bond. Get over there, be away from any distractions and just a good time to be with your teammates.”
Olson has spent the week in London leading up to the game, obviously with the Raiders, and probably with other teams as well, and said he prefers to head over a day before the game as opposed to spending the week there.
“I think it was good for our players to be here and rehab and rest here and be in their own beds and have a chance to sleep. We started by having an early week. They actually are going to get an extra day of rest Friday on the travel day and tomorrow night so I think we will be fresh and ready to go. I like the way that they set it up, our trainers and our strength staff, and coach set it up this year.”
Olson is 3-3 on his six trips to play in London, and has won his last three — last season with the Rams and the two previous seasons with the Jaguars. So, I’d say his advice carries some weight as to what works best.
Gruden said Olson will be his “tour guide” in London, though there won’t be any time for tourist type stuff.
“It’ll probably be mostly just football. I think the length of the flight, probably get over there on Friday and mostly just recover with the players. Get them to stretch. Get them a little something to eat. Get their blood pumping. Get a walkthrough. Then Saturday the day before the game, a lot of review. There won’t be a lot of time for sightseeing, but I’ll try to sneak out and make some friends.”
Hey, maybe since the Raiders have a bye week a few of the players and coaches will stick around London after the game instead of flying right back home. I know I will.