As we all know, the Patriots (and some of the Gronk Nation gang) are in Denver for their annual meeting with the Broncos at Mile High stadium this weekend.
And as this writer well knows having once trudged to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, doing anything in altitude is no joke – whether you’re sprinting, catching passes or just drinking beer -- and they are going to feel every one of those 5,280 feet.
Aside from the effects of altitude, such as oxygen deprivation, dehydration, headaches and dizziness, the Pats will be in extreme enemy territory even without Peyton Manning taking snaps. Those fans are brutal … and don’t even get us started on that damn horse.
Fortunately, one of Gronk’s favorite drinks is one of the best antidotes for altitude sickness.
Yep, Pedialyte is not just for babies or recovery from a heavy night. The electrolyte-loaded children’s drink is a diuretic that rehydrates your body faster than Gatorade so trainers and former players recommend pounding it for a week before tackling high altitudes.
Former Pats running back Stevan Ridley knows the importance of Pedialyte – especially when he was partying with Big Rob and Mojo Rawley on the Gronk Cruise in February 2016.
Even with Brock Osweiler at quarterback, Denver is a challenging place for the Pats and even the GOAT struggles in the mountains. Tom Brady is 3-4 in Denver as a starter in the regular season and has also lost all three of his postseason starts there.
Coming off a bye week, Bill Belichick and the Pats at least had a few extra days up there to get acclimatized to the thin air at Mile High.
One player who doesn’t seem to struggle with the altitude is Dion Lewis, who said: “It doesn’t really bother me.”
“The only thing I notice is that my mouth is a little cottonmouth in the warm-ups, but that’s the only thing that’s really different,” the running back explained, according to NBC Connecticut. “I’ve got good lungs, so I’ll be alright.”
After Denver, the team is going to even greater heights – literally – when they head to Mexico City to take on the Oakland Raiders. Azteca Stadium is 7,382 feet above sea level, making it the highest location for an NFL game. The Raiders beat the Houston Texans there last year, so they’re more used to extreme conditions, but it will be totally new for the Pats.
In preparation, Belichick is wisely keeping the players in Colorado for the week, practicing at the Air Force Academy (just north of Colorado Springs and is 7,258 up), which will not only get them more used to altitude, but is also a valuable team-building exercise.
“[We] spend a lot of time together, just getting to know one another just a little bit better off the football field. I think we’ll have an opportunity to do that this year and hopefully we can get that same kind of thing going,” Matthew Slater said. “That time’s going to be important for us, it’s a critical stretch in our season. We’re all looking forward to that hopefully bond-forging experience.”