When one thinks of sports teams taking a bus to make a road trip, the image evoked is one of an earlier time when air travel was less abundant.
But in some ways, it also can be a more efficient mode of transportation. The Falcons decided that that was the case for this Sunday's game in Charlotte and made the trip, which is not much more than 200 miles from the team's practice facility in Flowery Branch, Ga., in a six-bus caravan aided by an escort from police in three different states -- Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The trip was designed to save time on both the front and back ends of the trip, as it's almost a 60-mile trip from Flowery Branch to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
"We will get there quicker," Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith said of the move. "The drive from Flowery Branch down to the airport, having to unload, load the plane, go through [Transportation Security Administration], fly over there, get off the bus, unload the plane and get to the hotel -- we will actually get there quicker by just leaving here from Flowery Branch. Our support staff has done it for years and they always get there quicker. We leave at the same time and they always beat us to the hotel and beat us back. It's to take the wear-and-tear off our bodies."
Smith said that when he was a linebackers coach with the Ravens, the team often took alternative modes of transportation. Washington, D.C., is a mere 40 miles away, Philadelphia is about 100 and New York is a little more than 200. He said the Ravens would bus to Philadelphia and take the train to New York.
"It's something when you're in close proximity in this league, that's really the mode of operation with either buses or train if you're up in the northeast," Smith said.
Wide receiver Roddy White said the players' first reaction was to laugh when Smith informed them of how the Falcons would make the trip. But "when coach told us we were going to get there quicker, everyone was like, 'Oh, yeah. That's a better route to go,' " White said.
Safety Thomas DeCoud said it reminded him of playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball during his high school days. Playing his college football at Cal, DeCoud only bused to nearby Stanford for the Bears' rivalry game.
"Actually, I'm kind of looking forward to it," DeCoud said on Thursday. "A little road trip... You have a lot of fun. It's a camraderie kind of thing. Guys have fun."