LONDON — Jarvis Landry just wants to win a football game.
He’s had trouble with his knee this season. He’s had trouble in his personal life, though things have brightened on that horizon as earlier this week prosecutors in Florida declined to file charges against him over domestic violence allegations involving the mother of his daughter, though he could potentially still be subject to discipline by the NFL.
But mostly, he wants to win Sunday at Wembley Stadium against the New Orleans Saints (8:30 a.m. CST, Fox), the team he grew up idolizing and wanting to play for in equal measures with the LSU Tigers. He wants a sharp performance from an offense his coach Adam Gase referred to as “garbage” after Miami’s lackluster 20-6 loss at the New York Jets on Sunday.
“It’s surreal, man,” said Landry after his team’s light workout Friday at Allianz Park, a rugby stadium in north London. “It’s one of those things as a kid growing up in Louisiana you always hope to play for the Saints. You always hope to play for LSU. I did one of those things. The opportunity to play against those guys should be fun.”
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Perhaps adding to the air of unrealness for Landry is the crazy path he and the Dolphins have taken to London. Jet lag on steroids.
Though the Miami area escaped the brunt of Hurricane Irma when it plowed up the length of the Florida peninsula earlier this month, it exacted a special type of toll on the Dolphins organization.
First, the team lost its bye week because their home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was postponed, setting the Dolphins on a forced march of 16 straight weeks with no break. The team then set up operations at the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility in Oxnard, California, around what turned out to be their season opener, a 19-17 win on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Dolphins returned briefly to Miami, only to leave again a few days later for the game against the Jets. Back home again for a few days, the Dolphins decided to remain in Miami until landing in London on Friday morning.
All told, the Dolphins have traveled some 16,000 miles this month, and still have thousands more of Atlantic Ocean to cross before returning home to host the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 8. The toll that much travel can take on the finely tuned physique of an NFL athlete is something Landry has done his best to counteract.
“It’s getting with Wayne Diesel (Miami’s sports performance director) and our whole science crew, getting massages, hydrating as much as possible, just doing the things that benefit me the most,” Landry said.
He knows the Saints, whose franchise did its own forced march all over America during the 2005 season after Hurricane Katrina wrecked the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, won’t be taking pity on the Dolphins.
“Come Sunday, none of that matters,” Landry said. “The Saints don’t care how far we’ve traveled, if we don’t have a bye. So it’s not for us to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got a game to win, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Landry, as always, has been doing his part.
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Though he’s been outshined by the highlight reel-producing conglomerate that is his good friend and former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr. with the New York Giants, Landry doesn’t have to take a back seat to any receiver in the NFL. He’s been one of the league’s most productive pass catchers in three-plus seasons, with 307 receptions for 3,177 yards and 13 touchdowns so far (19 catches for 126 yards but no TDs this season).
“I’ve always wanted to be the best, to separate myself from the guys I was drafted with,” Landry said. “It’s been a good start. (I'm) just trying to stay as consistent as possible.”
Landry has been consistent on another front: whether or not he will continue to stand for the national anthem.
The sit-down/kneel down protests by players across the league last week touched off a firestorm of criticism — some of it directed at the 10 Saints players who sat last week at Carolina. Some players, like Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi said Friday, are still trying to decide what they will do this week.
Landry said he will continue to stand.
“I don’t wrestle with it at all,” the former Lutcher High School star said. “I love my country, I love the military. Are there issues, yes, but I choose to protest in other ways.”
That’s about as much as Landry wanted to say on the subject Friday.
He’s here, foremost, to win a football game.