DENVER — Neville Gallimore and former Roc-A-Fella Records artist Beanie Sigel now have something in common: they can both feel it in the air. For the former, it's more about what he experienced on Thursday when the Cowboys traveled to Denver to scrimmage the Broncos - Gallimore having been ill-prepared for just how different the atmosphere is in Colorado from Southern California or North Texas.
Gallimore is entering his third year in the NFL, but has never once played in Denver, so he truly was caught off-guard by the change, a change that literally impacts how efficiently (or in this case, inefficiently) oxygen saturates the bloodstream or, in some cases, desaturates.
"I wish somebody would've given me a better warning for this altitude out here," said an exhausted Gallimore while wearing a jovial grin. "I felt like I couldn't breathe the whole time, but it's all good. We'll get better."
Long story very short, the higher you climb in altitude, the less oxygen exists and, in turn, you require that much more air to reach the same levels of oxygen you would've received if you were at a lower elevation (you have to breathe harder, and faster).
This wasn't the only reason the Cowboys struggled at times against the Broncos on Thursday, but it's also true that - especially for players who have never experienced it before – the altitude had an impact. If you'd like a quick look at the contrast between the city the Cowboys call during training camp, their in-season home where they're currently battling the Broncos with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, here's a glance (measurements are in feet above sea level):
Dallas, Texas: 500'
Oxnard, California: 52'
Denver, Colorado: 5,279'
Insert literal gasp here.
And don't be misled by Gallimore being a native Canadian, because his hometown of Welland, Ontario is only 575' above sea level so, yes, he and others were finding it difficult to acclimate on Thursday, whereas the Broncos were simply enjoying the friendly air of home sweet home.
"Not only competing against [Russell Wilson and the Denver offense], but also competing against the elements," Gallimore said. "That was also a nice little treat, too. After today, we'll be able to get back to the drawing board and be ready to get after it [on Friday] and on Saturday. ...They say you don't know what [the altitude] is like until you have to go through a practice and run around a little bit."
He also admits to being fooled by the temperature, assuming that told the entire barometric story.
"I thought it was all good - I saw it was 95, 96 [degrees] and I thought, 'Ah, Texas is 105,'" confessed a smiling Gallimore. "But then you get a little jog in, you're like, 'Oh snap, I can't really breathe.' Getting acclimated to that is probably a little tough ... I thought I was tripping.
"I was limping around like,'Is it just me?' I'm looking around and the Check Engine Light came on. I guess that's why they call it Mile High, right?"
The name of the game now is to clear that CEL and get ready for more work on Friday and especially on Saturday, when the preseason rubber will finally meet the road for both clubs. The remainder of Thursday will be spent getting their blood-oxygen levels back to normal, because Gallimore wasn't the only one gassed in practice, and you could hear it in his voice.