FOXBOROUGH — With four hours remaining before their scheduled 6 p.m. departure from Logan International Airport, the Patriots today were seen in their locker room scrambling to shower and pack their gear for the flight to London for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium.
While the team’s equipment staff hurriedly collected the players’ duffel bags, Jonathan Wilhite approached BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the locker room wondering if there was enough time before the 4 p.m. departure of the team’s bus caravan from Gillette Stadium to run home and fetch his camera.
Evidently, Wilhite was not aware of the concept of disposable cameras.
According to team officials, the Patriots will fly to London on Virgin Airlines charter and arrive Heathrow Airport at 5:35 a.m. Friday.
Although it would be his first time abroad, and the first stamp in his passport, running back Laurence Maroney said he wasn’t planning on taking in any of the sights in London. If he wants to gaze at Big Ben, there’s always Ben Watson.
“It’s not a vacation and it’s more of a business trip,” Maroney said. “That’s how I’m going to take it, that’s how I’m looking at it. If I’m going to go sightseeing in London, I’m going to have to go on my own time. Right now, I’m on Patriots’ time and I’m just going to go out there and handle my job.”
Maroney was not thrilled with the exchange rate, which did not favor American tourists who have to fork over $1.66 in order to purchase one British pound. It costs less – about $1.50 – for one Euro.
“That’s highway robbery!” Maroney said in mock anger. “A dollar isn’t even worth a pound over there!”
While it was the NFL’s intent to expand its lucrative brand to the European continent — the failed experiment of NFL Europe notwithstanding — it does come at a price for teams who have to play a regular-season game abroad.
“It’d definitely be nice just to go out there and play in different countries,” Maroney said. “But to be honest, I’d just rather stay here. It’s less traveling, less jet lag. I know my area and surroundings.”
Winless on the road so far this season, what makes matters worse is that the team will not be compensated in British currency for doing their business on British soil.
“I think we should, ” Maroney said. “But we’d have to pay taxes over there, huh? Would we have to pay taxes? I don’t know. But I think we should be paid in pounds, so I can go ahead and convert that back over [to US currency] and it can add up a little bit.”