The San Diego Chargers have arrived in London to prepare for their game against the New Orleans Saints in the NFL’s continuation of its International Series in Week 8.
Here is what the team had to say about the much-anticipated game at Wembley Stadium:
Chargers coach Norv Turner
Last year’s Giants-Dolphins game was played in the rain and was low scoring. Do you think with conditions being different, scoring may be higher this time?
“I think every year you do this, you learn from it. I’ve been told the field is in great shape. We’ve got two very good quarterbacks. Both teams are capable of scoring points. I would like to see us score points and hold them down.”
What do you expect from the crowd, with it being not just Chargers and Saints fans but a mix of NFL fans?
“Sometimes you don’t know what to expect, but as I said, in my experiences being here, the crowds have been outstanding. They’ve been loud and full of energy. It makes for a accelerated atmosphere.”
When were you in London before?
“I came here once with the Rams and once with the Cowboys in the late 80’s, early 90’s.”
With the fans not really aligned with either team, how do they react?
“It has been a while for me but I do remember it being awfully loud and exciting.”
Chargers LB Shaun Phillips
What is your reaction to traveling to London and seeing your surroundings?
“It’s kind of exhausting, especially coming off a game like we had (in Buffalo). The whole long flight and everything is a bit exhausting. We’re a mature team. We should be able to respond to whatever we have in front of us.”
What are you looking forward to the most to see while in London?
“I would definitely say just playing the game. Playing in front of the London fans is going to be huge. You think of the soccer matches and how huge the soccer matches are, 80, 90 thousand fans screaming. We’re hoping to get that same impact that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”
What are your thoughts on Wembley Stadium?
“I don’t know much about it. I haven’t done a lot of background on Wembley Stadium. I know how excited the guys out here get about soccer. English soccer is huge. We’re looking forward to that. We want to have all of the fans screaming and roaring and hopefully not fighting like we see on TV. We’re looking forward to this game.”
Do you have any plans to go into the city?
“Maybe I’ll do a little sight seeing tomorrow. Today I’m going to let my body catch up and get adjusted to the time change and the long flight. Rest my body a little bit.”
Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson
What was the sense you got from people here about their interest in the game?
“I thought they were very excited about us being here. They were really interested in American football. I think that’s evident in how many tickets have been sold. I think they’re pretty excited. I’m pretty sure they want to see a good game. That would help.”
What do you think of Wembley Stadium as a venue for an NFL game?
“I really like it. When I came here earlier I was just kind of taking in the atmosphere and obviously it was empty at that time, but just wondering what it would be like with people in the stands. I thought it was a great stadium, really built well and the grass seemed really good. From what I understand they’ve really been taking care of the grass and making sure that it’s up to somewhat better than last year. I’m excited. I really am. I’m excited to get there and see the atmosphere. I think it’s going to be great.”
Chargers QB Philip Rivers
On handling distractions while in London:
“It certainly can be. We’ll have to manage it. Those are things you don’t get an opportunity to do or see some things that are out here. I know for me, and I’ll bet a lot of the guys, we’ve never been out of the country. Those things are fine. Go have fun, and enjoy it. Soak some of those things in. As long as it doesn’t creep in or get in the way of what we’re trying to get done, which is win a game. You certainly can enjoy those things this afternoon and Tuesday when we’re off, and still get in the preparation we need to get in to go win the game on Sunday.”
On his first thought when he knew the Chargers were coming to London:
“You really tie the two together, Buffalo and then New Orleans, just because of the trip. You knew you weren’t coming home. It wasn’t a get-on-a-plane-to-San-Diego-and-go-London. I don’t know. It (Rivers’ feelings) was mixed. Certainly you realize what can come with it is a lot of…I don’t want to say a hassle because that’s not the (right) word. But it certainly can be strenuous on the schedule and the time and our bodies, but at the same time it’s exciting. It’s something new. There’s only one (international) game every year, and being that game against the Saints is a good match-up. Mostly positive (thoughts). The way the NFL structured it is outstanding with the bye week following it so we can recover from the trip next week. We have to zero in though and get to .500 at the halfway point, which is not where we wanted to be but it leaves us at a spot where we still have a chance.”
On the coincidence of the Giants winning the Super Bowl after playing in London last year:
“I don’t think you can put too much stock into that. We would love to have it happen again. Come here and win and hopefully win a bigger one later. No, I don’t think there is any (correlation). It’s fun. We’re excited to be here and play. The match-up is fun. It’s a team you don’t play very often. The preparation from that standpoint, you have to zero in on them. It’ll be a fun week and hopefully it ends on a high note on Sunday.”