Steelers leaving later, going through Newark, may have positive benefits and negative drawbacks

Justin K. Aller

Changing the routines of professional athletes can put them in situations less conducive to success, but it also can sharpen and refresh them mentally.

Two mentalities emerge when topics like an NFL team changing its travel plans for uncontrollable reasons like their hotel not having any power.

There's the old school side; "it shouldn't matter, they're paid professional athletes who don't make excuses. If they weren't so coddled in the first place, it wouldn't be an issue."

There's the more modern approach; "these guys entire professional lives are dedicated to routine. They're scheduled down to the minute on road trips and anything at all that can break their focus could play a huge factor in the upcoming game."

The reality is it's probably a little from column A and a little from column B, but the bulk of the issue is made of neither.

It may be true generally that excuses mean nothing anyway, but that doesn't change the fact it's an NFL rule teams travel to away games the night before they are scheduled (barring special circumstances like the one the Steelers face in traveling to Sandy-torn New York City). At the same time, they've been playing this game for nearly their entire lives and if they need to sleep in a hotel bed instead of their own and require at least 12 hours of post-flight decompression to adequately prepare to run, block and tackle, perhaps the issue isn't in the the travel, but the expectations placed on the players.

Change for the sake of change may not necessarily be good, but breaks in routine can be refreshing. The Steelers defense in particular hasn't always started off the best anyway, maybe giving them that extra night at home (in Pittsburgh, at least, it's likely they'd stay in a Pittsburgh area hotel Saturday night before leaving early Sunday for the game) gives them enough time away from the standard (that is the standard) to give them a new perspective.

Certainly, with the defending champions boast a four-game winning streak, the Steelers have bigger fish to fry than concerning themselves over when they're setting foot on the plane for a relatively quick trip.


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