LONDON – One nine-hour plane ride and several bus trips later, America's Team has made camp in the United Kingdom.
The Cowboys flew overnight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday, arriving in London at 10 a.m. local time on Tuesday – 4 a.m. back in Texas. Within two hours, they had been transported to Wembley Stadium, where they'll play their International Series game against Jacksonville on Sunday.
"The logistics were good – I think they know how to do this overnight travel," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "They give you a meal, they let you sleep, they give you breakfast. Before you know it you're in the terminal ready to go."
Garrett certainly had the Cowboys ready to go right off the plane. Without even checking into their hotel, they immediately got to work on their preparation for Jacksonville with a light walkthrough. Following that brief workout, coaches and players engaged local school children at a NFL Play 60 community even.
It's certainly not a routine game week, but it will easily be remembered as a unique experience – the Cowboys' first trip overseas during the regular season.
"Obviously everybody is tired right now, but from the perspective of – we get an opportunity to play in Wembley Stadium on Sunday, in London – great opportunity for us," said Jason Witten.
For some, it'll carry even greater significance. Tuesday is Dez Bryant's 26th birthday, which he marked with his first-ever international trip. Bryant might not have enjoyed the prolonged plane ride – "not my kind of party" – but he said he plans on savoring the experience.
"It's pretty cool playing an American sport over here in the UK," he said.
The location for the game makes that experience even more unique. Wembley Stadium has been the site of countless major sporting events. The original Wembley Stadium, built in 1923 and closed in 2000, hosted the 1966 World Cup Final – won by England – as well as five European Cup finals.
The new Wembley Stadium, where the Cowboys will face the Jaguars on Sunday, has hosted two UEFA Champions League finals since it opened in 2007. It is also where England's national soccer team plays all of its home matches.
"I'm excited to play at Wembley, the home of football over here," said Tony Romo. "I think being able to play on the pitch – that'll be something that's pretty interesting. For us it's a once in a lifetime kind of thing."
[embeddedad0]Of course, that once in a lifetime opportunity might carry more weight for one Cowboy player specifically. As a native of nearby Kilburn, Jack Crawford knows all about Wembley – he called it a "dream come true" to play there.
Having come over from London to play college football at Pen State, and then subsequently be drafted by the Oakland Raiders, the opportunity to play a foreign game in front of his home country is one he said he'll cherish.
"It's a surreal experience having the opportunity to play over here, where I grew up," he said. "I never thought I'd be playing American football back in London. I pretty much played every sport growing up – basketball, soccer, rugby – I never thought I'd be playing American football back here."