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London the latest unique atmosphere for Raiders

LONDON — The Raiders have played two games on a half-football, half-baseball Frankenfield in Oakland.

They have played at 5,280-foot altitude in the hottest home game in Denver Broncos history. They’ve played at a heat index of nearly 100 degrees in humid Miami Gardens, Florida, and most recently at the Los Angeles Chargers’ cozy soccer complex.

Another week, another unique atmosphere.

Direct from Oakland, the Raiders flew into Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport early Friday aftermoon. Shuttle buses then transported them to their hotel where they largely rested in advance of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium. A raucous but random atmosphere is anticipated at the venue, which predominantly hosts soccer matches.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead has played in London twice with the Detroit Lions.

By now, he knows what to expect from the crowd.

Spectators will don jerseys from teams around the NFL. Little rhyme or reason will accompany, at times, the cheering. In certain moments, the Raiders may seem like the home team. In others, it will be the Seahawks. American football fans from around Europe converge to England.

“It’s going to be loud regardless,” Whitehead said. “No matter if you are on offense, defense, special teams, they’re in the stadium, and they’re just cheering to cheer. They’re happy to be here. They’re happy we’re here. It brings a smile to my face. … They love the game of football. They’re just here to support us and the National Football League. It’s a good feeling that the sport in of itself is growing.”

The Raiders will make a preliminary visit to Wembley on Saturday.

Their scheduled walkthrough is designed, in part, to familiarize themselves with the field’s conditions and overall setting. The stadium seats up to 90,000. Last Sunday, in Carson, California., the Raiders played at the Chargers’ temporary stadium, StubHub Center. A paid attendance of 25,362 people was announced.

Two NFL games were played at Wembley in 2017.

Both totaled more than 84,000 fans in paid attendance.


■ A high of 68 degrees and a 50 percent chance of rain are forecast for Sunday in London, according to Met Office.

■ Coach Jon Gruden would prefer the Raiders not be on the “Hard Knocks” HBO television series someday. “I think my TV days are over,” he said.

■ Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) and defensive end Frostee Rucker (neck) are doubtful. Safety Karl Joseph is questionable. If all are sidelined, Jon Feliciano will start in Osemele’s place for a second straight week. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun may be active, and cornerback Leon Hall would serve as a fourth safety if necessary.

■ A Europe-based reporter asked wide receiver Amari Cooper how he felt his strengths matched up with the Seahawks’ secondary. “I feel like I can get open on anybody,” Cooper said.

■ Befitting the British theme, Gruden was asked to name his favorite James Bond actor and whether he preferred the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. He chose Roger Moore and the Rolling Stones. “I thought Roger Moore was as cool as cool gets,” he said.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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