Nobody will ever say Akiem Hicks is a man who is unprepared. The Chicago Bears defensive leader knows that the 2019 season comes with high expectations. It also comes with a unique niche in the schedule. For the first time since 2011, the team will be returning to London to play one of their regular season games. Last time they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-18.

Hicks, while there to help the league expand the game, wanted to make sure he did all he could to understand what the travel itself would entail. One of the reasons teams don’t like going to London is the distance. Flights are far longer than any they’ve encountered across the U.S. It has a tendency to mess with the delicate balance of a body’s patterns. This can lead to undesired fatigue and lacking mental awareness.

Those two problems then turn into mistakes on the football field. Mistakes lead to losing games. Given how strong the schedule looks on paper for the Bears, every game matters. The Oakland Raiders may be improved this year, but they should be a team the Bears beat. So Hicks is hoping his trip over there helps provide them an edge, no matter how small.

Akiem Hicks realized a few keys to making London tolerable

Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune caught up with him for an interview about his experiences over there. Hicks soon explained a few of the keys he noticed. Little tricks he and his teammates will have to learn in order to make sure the trip doesn’t put them at a disadvantage before the game even starts.

“The beautiful thing about this is I get to go back to Chicago and impart this wisdom upon everybody that hasn’t been over to this game before. And I can tell them how you might feel a little jet-lagged when you first get here. Work on your sleeping patterns. Things such as that…

…It’s very important to stay hydrated, No. 1. For me, I definitely plan on doing a series of stretch routines, not only on the plane, but also once I get here to make sure I feel limber. A guy of my stature, being 6-5, things aren’t built for us. So it’s just making sure our bodies feel as good as they can after making such a strenuous trip.”

Anybody who has flown on airplanes knows the cramped quarters are tough to deal with. Being 6’1 (as I am) is bad enough. Try to imagine being 6’5 and over 300 lbs. That can be a nightmare if not handled properly. It’s good to see Hicks is learning these things now. When the Bears depart for their game this fall, nobody will be caught by surprise.