OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens took their first flight overseas last month, traveling 7 1/2 hours to London. Two weeks later, the Ravens are flying six hours in the opposite direction to play at Oakland.
To put this in perspective, Baltimore's round-trip distances on those flights are 12,872 miles, which is what it would take to travel halfway around the globe. It's essentially the distance of flying one way from Baltimore to Perth, Australia.
This would be great for a businessman logging frequent-flier miles. It's not the optimum itinerary for a football team trying to get to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged this week that the impact of travel on his players is something he thinks about a lot and it's always on his mind.
"It’s hard to quantify it, though," Harbaugh said. "It’s hard for me to sit back and say, 'Hey, this London thing took a lot out of us. Maybe we're going west now [and] it'll be easier.' I don't know. I don't want to become an expert at those things, but I'll listen to the experts and to the advice. I can tell you, there are a lot of different opinions, and everyone has one, and everyone seems like they know what they're talking about -- at least, they act like they do."
The Ravens' travel puts them at a disadvantage, especially in the division. Baltimore will fly more miles in these two trips than nine teams will travel all season, including the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers are traveling the least amount of miles of any team in the NFL. In fact, the Ravens' trips to London and Oakland will nearly double what Pittsburgh will travel the entire season (6,694 miles).
Overall, the Ravens will travel only the 16th-most miles this season in the NFL. That's because Baltimore's other six trips (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Minnesota, Tennessee and Green Bay) are relatively short ones.
"I think the bottom line is -- and the thing I come to after these years now -- is that the old ways [of traveling] are usually the best ways," Harbaugh said. "When you start trying to mess around with too many new ideas, you find out it's usually just a bunch of theory. The ways that people have done things for a long time usually are pretty solid."
That's why the Ravens are going to stick with the traditional plan of flying on Friday for Sunday's game in Oakland.
"We used to do that, we've always done that, and we’re going to stick with the schedule that we used to have back in the day when I first got here, and that'll be our schedule going forward," Harbaugh said. "As far as going east, to London, I'm not planning on having that conundrum again for a while. We'll see how that goes, but I think teams going out there have had their issues, for sure, and then even coming back."