The Seahawks left the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on a Wednesday evening, and walked off an airplane on Thursday afternoon, which is why head coach Pete Carroll said, “This day really, in essence, it doesn’t exist.”
With the team starting its practice week a day early, getting its usual Wednesday and Thursday work in back home on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Seahawks went from that Wednesday-to-Thursday transition in the air to promptly going about their usual Friday work upon arriving at their hotel.
“It’s another Thursday, it’s another Friday, it’s just kind of a ‘tweener,” Carroll said. “We’re walking between the spaces right now.”
‘Tweener or not, the Seahawks still got a light practice in under fading daylight, playing on a field nestled between trees at the resort that will serve as team headquarters for the rest of the week.
And if the 18th century architecture didn’t give away the fact that this is anything but a normal week of practice, that fact was cemented after the workout when Carroll held a press conference in a greenhouse that has been converted in a restaurant in a building called the potting shed.
The Seahawks arrived in London on Thursday afternoon, hoping players had maximized their opportunity to sleep on the flight, then after lunch and a team meeting, the club took to the field, and if players were groggy from the long travel day, it didn’t show.
“I think the guys were cooking out there,” Carroll said. “It was a quick practice, but we did a lot of work and everybody was battling like always do. We just wanted to get our feet on the ground and get going and make sure that we knocked this first day out. We’ll try to keep our guys awake as well for a little bit before they go to sleep tonight. Everything worked out great. Their attitude and spirit about it was perfect.”
One way the Seahawks hoped to ease the travel burden on players was to give them the first-class seats, making sleep that much easier.
“I had the first-class seat where it lays all the way down like a bed, so I wasn’t used to that,” cornerback Shaquill Griffin said. “I’m mostly in the back with the seats standing straight up, so my neck be hurting sometimes. This plane was really nice. Pete definitely made sure we were comfortable on this one.”
Well, not everyone was as comfortable as Shaquill Griffin and the other Seahawks veterans.
“The rookies didn’t have those seats,” said Shaquill's twin brother, Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin. “I don’t know what he’s talking about. We really were closed off, so it was cool, I didn’t get that experience of it. I was definitely comfortable, and I slept well. They had it blocked off, so we didn’t know what was going on with the vets. I’m pretty sure they were living good up there, but you know, we got here safely.”
While players took part in a team event after practice, the purpose of which was, in part, to make sure everyone stayed awake into the evening, some Seahawks staffers, as well as 710 ESPN Seattle employees, checked out the town of Watford, which is close to the team hotel. The biggest takeaway of the evening—other than the fact that the High Street area of Watford is quite lovely—is that Brits apparently refer to arugula as rocket leaves. And let me tell you, ordering a pizza with prosciutto and rocket leaves sounds a hell of a lot cooler than prosciutto and arugula. This might be how I get my 3-year-old to eat her greens when I get back. Also, shout out to Beavertown Brewery’s session IPA. Delicious.
The Seahawks will try to settle into a more normal routine with practice on Friday, then yours truly will check out the Blue Friday rally in London at the Barrowboy & Banker, so if you’re in town and in the area, come say hello.
Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive images from the Seahawks' first day in London as the team prepares to take on the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.