Jaguars' Tyler Shatley on playing the most NFL London games

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Tyler Shatley has played more games in London than any other player in NFL history, with seven career matchups in the United Kingdom.

And when the Jaguars (2-1) play the Atlanta Falcons (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN+) at Wembley Stadium and the Buffalo Bills (Oct. 9 at 9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium over the next two weeks, he'll have played the most games outside of the United States in league history.

"Honestly, it's kind of surprising that I've been there seven times and they still don't give us the motorcade and we have to ride the buses with the rest of the people," Shatley joked.

There was no celebration when Shatley stepped off the plane at Heathrow Airport. No parade or chance of getting knighted. But his accomplishment deserves some kind of recognition, even if it's up to his teammates.

The 32-year-old Shatley is the longest-tenured player on the Jaguars' roster, joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson in 2014. He has played in 131 games and has 45 starts at guard and center, mainly as an injury replacement. Sunday will mark his 126th consecutive game, which is two shy of long-snapper Joe Zelenka's franchise record, a streak that dates back to the team's 34-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills -- in London in 2015.

When Shatley doesn't start, he plays on special teams during field goals and PATs. Moreover, he lines up wherever and whenever he's needed.

"It's reassuring," said Doug Pederson, the fifth coach for whom Shatley has played in his 10 seasons in Jacksonville (including an interim). "You've got a veteran guy there that can play a couple spots. He's played a lot of football and he's just a reliable guy, a trustworthy guy and somebody that you can definitely count on to be able to go in a game at any time."

In advance of his eighth trip -- which breaks a tie with former Jaguars and Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny for most international games played -- Shatley spoke to ESPN about what advice he gives to teammates for the London games, some memories of his previous seven trips, his favorite thing to do in London and what it's like being the league's international man of mystery ... and football.

Or, as his teammates jokingly call him, the King of London.

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AS AN EXPERIENCED international traveler, Shatley has one important piece of advice for rookies or players making their first trip overseas: You're going to be dragging serious rear end on Friday. Just deal with it.

The Jaguars boarded their charter flight Thursday evening and arrived in London on Friday morning. It's roughly a six-hour flight, and the five-hour time change robs the players of a normal night's sleep. The team will bus to the hotel, check in, grab lunch and start practicing at 2:20 p.m. local time.

Even though the charter is equipped with lay-flat seats for the players' comfort, it's hard for most to sleep, so Shatley makes sure to tell them they're going to be tired and cranky -- and there's nothing they can do about it.

"No matter what medicine you take or what you do, it's going to stink and you're going to be tired," Shatley said. "And just embrace that. Embrace the stink because you're not going to be able to make it. You're not going to be able to adjust.

"Guys will stay up the night before so they can sleep on the plane and it never works. It hurts no matter, no matter what you try to do. ... I haven't heard of anybody being like 'I found the golden ticket' to not be just jet-lagged like a mug."

The Falcons (2-1) also arrived on Friday, so there's no competitive advantage for either team, as both have to deal with the jet lag. However, when the Jaguars are done with Week 4, they won't be going home like they normally do. They will be staying in London to play the Bills in Week 5 -- so they should be well-rested for game No. 2 overseas.

ONE OF SHATLEY'S favorite parts of the trip has nothing to do with football. The team will stay and practice at The Grove Hotel, a luxury resort with a spa and golf course located 18 miles from the center of London. When he gets some free time, Shatley likes to wander around the grounds of the resort, find a quiet place and sit. With three kids, solitude can be a rarity.

"There's a really nice field. It's great scenery," Shatley said. "When we're out there, out in the country, it's actually quiet. Unlike when you're around [Jacksonville]. It's hard to find quiet places.

"It does eliminate a ton of distractions. When people talk about getting away, you're getting away. You're also playing a football game, but there's a little bit of time where you're like, 'Oh, this is nice. It's quiet.'"

The Jaguars will leave the resort after Sunday's game for different accommodations because the Bills will move in as the home team -- part of a deal the resort has with the NFL. The players will get Monday off, so they're free to sightsee, wander around the city or even rent some clubs and play golf.

Shatley did some sightseeing on his first trip in 2014, including stops at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye, when the Jaguars spent a week in London preparing for their game against the Dallas Cowboys. He admits he probably didn't value what he was seeing as much as he should have.

"I probably didn't understand it enough then to appreciate the history of it," Shatley said.

One place Shatley definitely hasn't visited: any of the more than 45,000 pubs the British Beer and Pub Association says are scattered across the United Kingdom. But there's a reason; he doesn't drink. "I've actually never had a beer," he said. "Never in my life."

ONE OF THE biggest complaints players have had about the annual home game in London is the food. British cuisine is a little different from American food. Some examples:

  • Bangers and mash (sausage with onion gravy and mashed potatoes).

  • Black pudding (sausage made out of congealed blood and oats).

  • A full English breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, beans, toast and tomatoes -- and sometimes black pudding).

  • Chip butty (a white bread sandwich consisting of ... French fries and butter).

"The last two years have been really good at The Grove [with the food]," Shatley said. "When we've been downtown before, it's not great. And probably because it's not bad for you. There's probably not all these preservatives and stuff in it. It's actually like real food, and so we're like, 'This is junk.'"

Shatley hasn't tried any of it. Not even bangers and mash, which is probably the closest thing to American food on the list. "I haven't gone out and had it," he said. "So I don't want to speak on it because if someone from the U.K. came here and tried barbecue from a hotel, I'd be like, 'Probably some better spots you could get it from there, bruv.'"

It's easier for Shatley to stick with familiar foods at group dinners whenever he's away from team dining.

SHATLEY AND EVERY professional athlete who plays in London have their game checks subjected to United Kingdom taxation in addition to U.S. taxes.

They're taxed at a rate of up to 45% (the highest in the United States is 37%) as well as being taxed on any global endorsement income. Shatley isn't one of the team's highest-paid players -- the most he has made in a single season is $2.64 million -- but since he has played seven games in London, his additional tax bill has been ... significant.

"Percentage-wise [I've possibly paid the most in U.K. taxes]," Shatley said. "Obviously guys who make a lot more money and have had to pay more money, but I have had to pay more taxes to London. Probably maybe even enough to buy a ticket to see Adele."

Shatley said he has never tabulated the exact amount. He also said he had no idea about the additional taxes until he heard the veterans talking about it after the team returned from its 31-17 loss to the Cowboys at Wembley Stadium in 2014.

"Honestly, my rookie year I wouldn't have known about it until the veterans complained about it," Shatley said. "So I just make sure I complain about it to [the rookies], so that way they know that they're getting taxed more money.

"I can't allow them to be blissfully ignorant. They need to be angry about it with me."

THERE WAS AGREEMENT in the Jaguars' locker room that Shatley deserves something to commemorate the historic moment at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Some proposals:

  • An audience with King Charles III.

  • A parade.

  • A statue.

  • A meeting with Adele. (That was Shatley's idea.)

Center Luke Fortner might have hit on the best idea: Fancy a cuppa?

"Dude, a tea party," Fortner said. "Are you kidding me? Yes, absolutely. With Shatley at the head of it and kind of leading the thing. ... I may have to go talk to our operations guys, talk to the nutritionist [and] dietitians and see if we can get a true tea party set up for him."

Linebacker Josh Allen is all-in on the idea.

"Heck yeah, I'll go," he said. "With my pinkie up."