LONDON — Lamar Jackson, even now, is still pushing boundaries. Last week, in a win over the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens quarterback scored multiple passing and rushing touchdowns for the first time in his NFL career. This week, after a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jackson commemorated his first trip to London with a Chanel purse he purchased for his mother and a walk around the city with teammates.

“I don’t know exactly where I was,” Jackson said Wednesday, drawing chuckles from a throng of European and Baltimore-based reporters inside Tottenham Hotspur’s training facility.

That sense of dislocation can feel especially acute — and thrilling — on days like these. Amid a week of monumental undertakings for the Ravens, who relocated more than 200 players, coaches, officials and staffers overseas for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, it’s the team‘s part-time tourists who might be the most richly rewarded. Because playing in London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium means getting to England, and getting to England means leaving the United States, sometimes for the first time ever.

A recent survey of the Ravens’ locker room revealed a small but disparate group of players with unstamped passports, from rising stars including inside linebacker Patrick Queen to practice squad players such as rookie wide receiver Sean Ryan to journeymen such as cornerback Kevon Seymour.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“I’m excited to go to London because I haven’t been anywhere like that,” Seymour said Friday. “A lot of guys have been telling me about it. … So I’m excited, bro. I’m excited.”

After the NFL announced in May that the Ravens would be playing in London for the first time since 2017, tight end Isaiah Likely started to hear from Valarie Wideman, the team’s player services manager. He didn’t have a passport. He needed one.

Ravens wide receiver Sean Ryan participates in flag football with local children in London. (Kin Cheung/AP)

So began one of several summerlong projects for Wideman. Ryan only recently got a look at his official documentation.

“The picture’s always the roughest part, but I can live with it,” Ryan joked. “It wasn’t my best, but it wasn’t my worst this time.”

There is irony in these Ravens’ first trip abroad being a work trip. In college, they watched year after year as classmates headed to France or Australia for a semester abroad or crossed over to Mexico for spring break.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

But downtime is scarce in the NCAA Division I football calendar. In the fall, there’s the regular season. In the winter, offseason strength and conditioning workouts. In the spring, more practice. In the summer, classwork and preseason training camp. For NFL prospects, the months before the draft are a never-ending hamster wheel of classes and workouts, travel and meetings.

Likely, who starred at Coastal Carolina, never stopped to consider he was missing out on something. “You’re always trying to get better; you’re always trying to work; you’re always trying to take that next step to get to your dream and play in the NFL,” he said. “And I guess sometimes it just skips your mind … to live in the moment and really just be genuine to yourself and take that vacation for yourself.”

Added Seymour, a multiyear starter at USC: “I was just on a mission. I was focused. I was on a mission just to get to where I am today, and I really didn’t have any interest in going abroad at the time, to be perfectly honest. But now — I had a mission to get here, now I’m here, and it’s for work. It’s even better, you know what I mean? Even though I’m not going to have the time to get to experience everything like I would if I’d went abroad back in college, it’ll still be a great experience.”

Every Raven’s maiden voyage went in search of something unique. For Likely, it was “the scenery.” Seymour couldn’t wait to try the food. (“I just want to eat — as long as it’s not raw, though.”) The Ravens’ veteran travelers have told the team’s first-timers how travel can broaden their understanding of the world; inside linebacker Roquan Smith, one of the team’s most respected voices, spent parts of last offseason in Southeast Asia with offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and outside linebacker Tyus Bowser. He also traveled solo to Japan with the USO.

View post on Instagram

Coach John Harbaugh recalled Wednesday how his own trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 as part of the NFL-USO coaches‘ tour helped shape his perspective not only of life outside the United States but also life inside it.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“That was kind of an eye-opener, to say the least,” Harbaugh said. “When you get outside the country, I think it’s kind of cool to see that there’s a whole world out there, and for the guys to see that is really a great experience. And, also for me, it was one of these things where I kind of appreciated home. I appreciated America. It made me feel good about what we had going.”

Jackson joked Wednesday that he didn’t know the scope of the NFL’s influence until passersby flagged him down Tuesday in London.

Few in the league have Jackson’s reach, but the Ravens’ transatlantic test is about more than exposing him to a new audience. It’s also about exposing the Ravens to a new world.

“Me being able to use my platform, the game that I love the most, and now to be able to have that advantage to get out [of] the country and go see other things and still be able to play the game?” Ryan said. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity.”

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

More From The Banner