The Cleveland Browns face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8 and are playing the contest in Twickenham Stadium in London, England. Overseas trips are a special sort of logistical gymnastics for NFL teams, who not only need to get their equipment and staff across the Atlantic Ocean but also the players—while taking into account time differences and jet lag that can affect on-field performance.
The Browns and Vikings have taken two different approaches to travel for the game.
Minnesota elected to leave on Wednesday night, and arrived Thursday morning around 10AM local (London) time. Head coach Mike Zimmer instructed his players to sleep on the nine-hour flight and set up an especially heavy pre-flight meal of chicken alfredo to help his players ease into shuteye a bit more comfortably. Their first practice was set for five hours after landing.
Zimmer and the Vikings did extensive research to reach these conclusions, saying “We’ve had sleep people come talk to us, you know we’re getting the whole gamut. I was looking into all the scientific things for this.” He also knows it may or may not work, adding, “I’ll either look smart or I’ll look dumb.”
The team practiced on Thursday next to the Syon House mansion, which was built in 1547. On Friday, they will practice at The Hazelwood Centre, where the London Irish Rugby team trains.
The Browns, meanwhile, opted to leave the United States late on Thursday evening, taking a seven-hour, red-eye flight to London. They did their research, too, with head coach Hue Jackson saying Wednesday:
“I think what is really important is how we handle the flight. The research that we have gotten and the people I have talked to is that we need to get these players to sleep as fast as they can and really sleep through this process and rest and not be up on the phone or looking at movies and all of that stuff. You really need to get your rest and shut down because it is a huge time difference and a different environment and atmosphere once we get to London.”
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam arranged for the players to fly first class, and Jackson noted that it will be a big help: “These guys legitimately will be able to lay down and sleep.”
Otherwise, the Browns are trying to keep to as normal a schedule as possible. They had their typically-scheduled Wednesday and Thursday practices before preparing for the nighttime flight on Thursday. They will arrive in London in the middle of Friday morning, have a few hours’ of additional rest and then will take part in a walkthrough practice. On Saturday, the Browns will also have a “mock game” at Twickenham before being given free time to themselves.
The Browns and Vikings released their injury reports on Thursday. Most notably, Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett, who was placed in the league’s concussion protocol earlier in the week will neither be playing in Sunday’s game, nor traveling to London with his teammates.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for 9:30AM Eastern time.