NASHVILLE, Tenn. - NFL road games are not only tough to win, they are tough to plan. After the league schedule is released in early April, Titans operations employees begin organizing road trips which are carefully planned out to maximize the team's performance.
With about 140 people on each road trip, it's not easy to schedule all of the intricacies including hotels and transportation. From April to July, Titans operations employees are on the phone scouting and booking reservations. Trying to prevent anything from going wrong, the organization sends an "advance man" to the city a few days before the rest of the team arrives. Brent Akers or Brad McClanahan makes sure everything is ready for the squad.
A Delta airplane is chartered by the team to accommodate the large traveling party. Players' families and friends are not allowed on the plane, usually a 757 or 767 because the group is too big for a customized jet similar to many NBA and MLB teams. With NFL teams having less than a dozen road trips each year, it's not as cost effective to buy a plane as it is to charter.
The day before a road game, the team travels from the Titans offices at Baptist Sports Park to the staging area at the airport, separate from the main commercial terminal. To save time, Titans operations arrange for a private screening area and parking area for players and coaches. Titans personnel must meet with and call a variety of people in advance to make sure everything runs smoothly.
"You have to plan and execute the staging area at the airport in Nashville and at the destination," said Vice President of Sales and Operations Stuart Spears. "You have to coordinate trucks, buses and police escorts to take everyone to the hotel and stadium. At the stadium, you have to coordinate where the buses come in, the time the locker room can be set up and an exit plan for the buses following the game."
Since it's not convenient to have everyone go to a restaurant together, food is made available on the plane and at the hotel. Like Titans training camp, players always have plenty of food at their disposal on road trips. Fullback Casey Cramer appreciates the food and the speed of travel.
"The efficiency on trips is great," said Titans fullback Casey Cramer. "They get you through the airport quickly and with food. We always have food readily available. They feed us right when we get on the plane; a meal is served on the plane, then snacks, and dinner at the hotel before more snacks at night. You can gain three or four pounds every road trip, which is wonderful."
Consistent scheduling on road trips is very important to Jeff Fisher. In his 16th season as head coach, no other active NFL head coaches have been with their current team longer than Fisher. He doesn't like to do new things on each road trip. The Titans road record shows why. Since Fisher began his first full season in 1995, the organization has the third best road record in the league (61-51). Why would Fisher change anything? Even the flight attendants are the same. While the city provides a different element to each road trip, the schedule seems routine. As a result, the players can easily understand where they need to be and where they need to go.
"They have everything planned for you to get you ready for the game," said Titans quarterback Kerry Collins. "It is definitely a schedule where you don't have a lot of time by yourself, but that is the way it's supposed to be. Everybody is there to focus on the game. We do the same thing every time and it's a good schedule."
The Titans consistent play last season allowed them to win their first six road games. A similar routine this year may lead to similar results.
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