Lions are taking a business trip to London

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Calvin Johnson might not get to see Big Ben.

Matthew Stafford probably won't be at Westminster Abbey.

And don't expect to see Ndamukong Suh hanging out at Buckingham Palace.

For the Lions, this week's trip to London to prepare for Sunday's game against the Falcons won't have much in the way of tourist opportunities.

Coach Jim Caldwell reiterated the Lions would try to maintain a usual schedule from the time they depart Monday night throughout the week, accommodating for the time and venue change (Wembley Stadium).

"For us, it's a business trip; it's not a vacation," Caldwell said Monday. "Most of us that are working (coaches and players) won't have an opportunity to do the things that tourists normally do.

"Our business is to go over and play a hungry Atlanta team in a game that means a lot to us."

Coming off a 24-23 victory over the Saints, the Lions are looking to maintain their focus and not be distracted by media obligations and other things involved in an overseas trip.

That means keeping the schedule similar to a typical week and keeping things as close to normal as possible, though there are some pockets in the schedule where they might be able to get away for a short time.

"As long as we keep in mind what's more important — business before pleasure — we're all grown men, there's nothing wrong with going to see the city," receiver Golden Tate said. "If it gets to the point where it affects how you perform the next day at practice, then it becomes a problem.

"We have a very mature locker room who's going to put this organization first and not make any selfish decisions."

Some of the Lions players said they haven't been to London before and are excited to see the sights, if time permits.

"I'm going out there to work but we'll get some time to see some things," safety Glover Quin said. "My wife is going out there and she's a little bit more of a historian than I am. I'm always down to see stuff."

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead said he's excited about the trip, especially because he was planning to go to London next offseason.

"It's a business trip and you can't get caught up in the fact we're in another place," Whitehead said. "You just have to play the game; that's why we're there, not to explore and go around and travel."

Plotting out the logistics was a primary goal for Caldwell and the Lions administration. They looked at how teams fared in previous trips overseas and decided to go early in the week instead of waiting until Thursday or Friday to travel.

"We did a lot for research on it," Caldwell said. "We looked at the teams that had gone over late and weighed that out. The teams that go over early get acclimated, we looked at all the parameters.

"So, we're going over early, get ourselves an opportunity to have a normal week of practice, as normal as it can be with skipping time zones, get our guys acclimated and forge ahead."

Caldwell warned this trip might not be the best time for the players to get out and see the attractions and historical buildings. There could be more time in the offseason or later during their careers to do so.

"I'm going to tell those guys it's going to be great to be over there and get a chance to see where we're staying down there — downtown where we're staying, we're pretty close to Trafalgar Square, so we may be able to see a few things there," Caldwell said.

"But I tell them if you're really looking for a really good time and you want to take a true tour of the city and Europe, win a lot more football games and you'll have a little extra money in your pocket and you'll be able to do so."

Many players said they didn't have specific plans for the eight-hour flight. Some wanted to watch movies and relax before trying to adjust to a new time zone.

Tight end Joseph Fauria said he planned to sleep.

"Coach Caldwell set the whole team up with a sleep specialist and she had a presentation," Fauria said. "She told us about the time difference, what to do and to wear sunglasses indoors to help us in the morning.

"That'll change my morning routine a little bit but now we're more informed about what to do overseas and how to prepare more for the game on Sunday without jet lag."

Moving up

The Lions are the 12th favorite to win the Super Bowl, according to The same site lists the team as 10-1 to win the NFC.

Super Bowl odds

3-1, Denver

7-1, Green Bay

9-1, Dallas

10-1, Indianapolis, Seattle

12-1, Arizona, New England

13-1, San Francisco

14-1, San Diego

15-1, Philadelphia

18-1, Baltimore

25-1, Detroit