After Eric Mangini proved he is no “man-genius” by going for it on 4th and 2 on the Jets own 20 yard line with over two minutes left, the Jets lost and became 0-4 against West Coast teams this season. This brought to surface a discussion heard several times this year. Sports writers, broadcasters, analysts and other miscellaneous journalists have questioned how coast-to-coast travel affects NFL teams. West coast teams have a terrible record against east coast teams this season, but that can be more obviously credited to the fact that the west coast teams are poor and they are playing away from home which is always a disadvantage.
The entire concept of travel making NFL teams “sluggish,” as one writer commented, makes absolutely zero sense to me. I mean, let me get this straight, the toughest professional players of an extremely physical sport can’t handle a five hour flight and a three hour time zone change? Outrageous!
NHL, NBA and MLB teams travel coast-to-coast more frequently in their longer seasons with only the intermittent “looks like tough stretch” or “difficult road trip looming” comments.
Questioning travel consequences has been brought up more recently with the addition of the yearly London game. Started last season, and already planned for New England versus Tampa Bay next season, a regular season NFL game on the other side of the pond has been planned with a bye week immediately following to alleviate any claimed stress from the farther distance and extra time zone simple addition required. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? In the England case, both teams have significant travel and it is still not such a burden that it should cause any effect on the most talented and trained football players in the world. The only true gripe for the international game is the loss of homefield advantage, which truly is unfair.
Whether it actually does or doesn’t, there is no way anything that can maybe be considered lengthy travel should effect an NFL team’s ability to play. What should really matter more than expected is when a big-time player returns to his face his previous team. Chad Pennington should be significantly affected by the anticipation of his to return to the Meadowlands to take on his former team with a clear playoff outcome. Revenge is the issue that has an undeniable result in NFL games.
Originally published on December 24th in Citizen News (Sherman, New Fairfield Edition)