London — If anything, the Detroit Lions’ England HQ is even swankier than the Atlanta Falcons’. It’s the Pennyhill Park Hotel outside Bagshot, and if you’re within spitting distance of Bagshot … well, you’re in clover.
Megan, our indispensable guide, noted that Bagshot is something of “a one-horse town,” but apparently the horse is Secretariat. Edward and Sophie — “a couple of the lesser Royals,” Megan said — live at Bagshot Park, and the next town over is Sunningdale, which has both a Rolls-Royce dealership and a quaint little train station, the latter of which was used by me this afternoon on the journey to London’s Waterloo Station and by several Detroit Lions on Tuesday.
Matthew Stafford, once a Georgia Bulldog, was among them. Was he recognized in the city? “I haven’t given anybody any reason to recognize me,” he said, speaking at the Lions’ media availability today. “Nobody recognized me on the train.”
Someone asked if Stafford — which is a rather common British name — had any relatives in the U.K. “Not that I know of,” he said. Then he laughed. “Maybe I’m a Lord.”
Calvin Johnson also did the Sunningdale-to-Waterloo trek, and he said nobody in London recognized him, either. (Which is kind of hard to believe, since the Georgia Tech product is 6-foot-5 and among the NFL’s most famous players.) Told that some Londoners had indeed recognized the Falcons’ Julio Jones, Johnson said, “They’re the home team.”
Johnson also expressed hope that his sore ankle, which kept him from playing the Lions’ past two games, will have healed enough that he’ll be able to play against the Falcons in Wembley. “It might go all the way to Sunday,” Johnson said, meaning a go/no-go decision.
An Atlanta writer (blush) felt the urge to ask Stafford if he was in the #FreeGurley camp. He played it straight down the middle, saying: “I really don’t know much about the case, but the sooner they get him back on the field, the better they’ll be.”
I believe that falls under the heading of “Duh.” But Stafford never was much of a comedian. Pretty good quarterback, though.