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The Logistics Of The Colts Traveling To London This Week

Intro: What all goes into the Colts traveling to London on Thursday? Director of Operations Jeff Brown explains some of the hurdles he has faced in preparing for the team’s game in London this weekend.


INDIANAPOLIS – For Colts' travel guru Jeff Brown, a normal road trip consists to about a manila folder of paperwork.

Hopping on a plane Saturday afternoon for a Sunday game in the United States is second nature to those in the NFL.

It's a routine that is practiced by teams at least 10 different times each season.

What is not routine for Brown lies ahead this week.


Wembley Stadium.

Five time zones away.

Still counts the same as any other game on the schedule.

"Every day I think about it," Brown, the team's Director of Operations, says of the Colts making their first ever trip to play overseas. "I'm getting emails from the NFL London people, the hotel, a staff member. It's constantly on my mind.

"I haven't thought about (the road trip to) Houston since we booked the hotel, but every day you think you are doing something towards London."

On Brown's desk he points to a thin manila folder that contains the work already complete for a road trip like Houston.

The London paperwork?

There it is---in a four-inch thick binder, with about another 50 manila folders right beside it.

"It feels like, gosh, 100 times more work," Brown says comparing normal road game prep to playing in London. "Again, it goes back to we know what we are getting into anywhere in the States.

"This one is different because you have a lot of decisions to make and every little decision is going to effect something. Whether it's the earlier you go, the more stuff you are going to take, the later you go, the more time crunch, it all impacts something."

Brown, who is in his 18th season with the Colts, first got started researching London last November when the Colts found out they would be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 2, 2016.

The week-to-week lifestyle teams staunchly follow was officially abandoned for Brown.

Putting off London would have caused a tidal wave of work this offseason.

Deviating from a normal work pattern is what Brown believes has been the toughest part in prepping for London.

In February, Brown made his first ever trip to London to do some early scouting.

The Colts' contingent saw the five hotels and five practice sites the NFL gives as options for teams. Also on the agenda for that trip were meetings on transportation, medical staffs and security. (One major difference the Colts will experience on game day in London is how they travel from their team hotel to Wembley Stadium. Unlike the United States, London does not do police escorts).

Brown's main goal in February was to settle on where the Colts would stay in London and where they would hold their practices.

Three months later, Brown was back in London laying out how the hotel will look for the Colts, specifically setting up meeting rooms and training/equipment areas.

Both trips to London for Brown offered a glimpse into just how much the people over there are embracing American Football.

"They are really excited about this game," Brown says. "You hear that, but until you see it, you don't really appreciate it. The people driving us around town, they talk about how big that game is and how important it is and they are glad they have three games now (each season)."

Once Brown returned to the States this May, it was time to make sure players and staff members had their passports.

According to Brown, the biggest hurdle other teams have faced in playing in London has been making sure the necessary paperwork is complete for a travel party of well over 100 people.

"In theory, it seems easy because you just have to fill out the paperwork and get it done," Brown says, "but when you are talking about 90 guys (on the roster in the summer) and you are talking about the roster changing, there are a lot of things that come into play. It's things you don't have to worry about on a yearly basis, let alone a weekly basis. That's been challenging.

"You still don't feel comfortable because it's not here yet and you know the roster is still going to change a little bit. You do hope those new guys that come in here, have (a passport). We do have a plan, an expedited plan, and we will have to use that if we need one."

Another major checkpoint for Brown came in August.

The NFL has an ocean freight for teams that want to send over any equipment early to London.

With cargo space tight on the team flight this Thursday the ocean shipment included necessary food/drink items, housekeeping-type stuff and training/equipment supplies.

Of course, the one caveat with sending material over nearly two months early is it had to be things the team and staff did not need for the rest of the preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season.

After speaking with his counterparts around the league, Brown does believe the Colts had a head start on their London prep.

Brown's main goal for London, albeit one that is nearly impossible, is to make things seem as normal as possible.

He has heard people say a road game in London is similar to an east coast team playing a night game on the west coast.

Yes, the Colts will get home from London at a similar hour to when they played a 2013 Monday night game in San Diego (around 1 a.m. ET). However, that game started at 8:30 p.m. ET back in Indianapolis. The Colts and Jaguars on Sunday will kick at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Amidst the chaos and the foreignness of playing in London, Brown admits it has been fun trying to formulate the most efficient plan.

Granted, when that plane lands in Indianapolis after midnight on Monday morning expect a sigh of relief from the man orchestrating everything behind the scenes.

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