ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Golden Tate is finally warming up to the idea of a game in London.
"I was not very excited about this trip, up until, like, today," the Detroit receiver said Monday. "Just because it's going to throw off our routine that we've had for so long. But you know what? Going on the road and being stuck with these guys for nonstop a week, I wouldn't do it with another group. These guys are a great group of guys, especially coming off that type of passionate win. I think it's definitely good for this team and this organization."
The Lions will have some time to bond overseas before facing the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. And although a trip like this creates a number of logistical issues, Detroit is hoping it won't be too disruptive. The Lions are tied for first in the NFC North after rallying dramatically in the final minutes to beat New Orleans.
Detroit coach Jim Caldwell spoke with reporters Monday, hours before his team was scheduled to travel to London.
"We're going to try to keep it as much like a normal week as we possibly can," Caldwell said. "I'm sure where we're staying downtown at one of the locations, we're fairly close to Trafalgar Square, so we may be able to see a few things there. But like I tell them, if you're really looking for a real good time and you want to take a real, true tour of the city in Europe, win a lot more football games, you'll have a little extra money in your pocket and you'll be able to do so."
This trip by the Lions and Falcons is another chance for the NFL to market itself overseas, and Caldwell understands the importance of that. Detroit has reportedly shown interest in Australian National Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne, who recently announced his plans to seek a chance in the NFL.
Caldwell seemed to be caught off-guard when asked about Hayne.
"I know who he is obviously, but I don't know what I'm supposed to tell you. I have no knowledge of it in that regard," Caldwell said. "It could be a personnel issue, but I'm not aware of it, just to be honest with you. Besides that, our focus is pretty narrow during this time of the year, so getting out of that realm, it's hard to do."
As for the NFL attracting more top athletes from overseas, there's still a long way to go.
"I'm not certain if it will be quite like basketball, because of the fact that basketball, they play in the youth programs and things of that nature. There's not a whole lot of American football being played around the world," Caldwell said. "I know in Japan, we went over to the Japan Bowl when I was at Indy in 2005 or 2006, somewhere around there. They did have an American team over there, so they had interest. I think that's the object in terms of the NFL trying to promote the sport."
Tate said he would like to check out a soccer game while in England, but he didn't think he'd be able to. Safety Glover Quin said his wife is more of a historian than he is, so she may be in charge of the sightseeing.
"I'm always down to see stuff and see a different culture," Quin said.
What is less exciting to Quin is talk of the NFL possibly putting a team in a city like London.
"It seems complicated. For one, how would that work?" Quin said. "We've got to make those long trips every week? Would we get taxed in London? That's horrible. Would we get paid in pounds? ... I've heard rumors about they'd have a main base here in the States that take care of all the day-to-day stuff, working out players and things of that nature, and then they'd just play over there."
NOTES: The Lions signed TE Kellen Davis and released S Jerome Couplin. The team also signed WR Ifeanyi Momah to the practice squad. ... Detroit TE Joseph Fauria said he was hoping to be able to sleep on the flight. "Coach Caldwell set the whole team up with a sleep specialist, and she had a presentation this morning, and told us the time difference and then what to do," Fauria said. "Told us to wear sunglasses indoors to help us in the morning."
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