Lavonte David didn’t get a chance to play the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder during his two years at Nebraska, but his Cornhuskers did make on trip to play Wyoming in Laramie. And in terms of altitude, the Cowboys’ home actually has 1,855 miles on Boulder.
So, yes, the Buccaneers’ rookie has actually played in “thinner” air than what he and his new teammates will experience this Sunday when they take on the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. David’s recollection of the experience: No big deal.
“It was [difficult] at the beginning, but you get used to it,” he said. “It wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be.”
Air at any level of the Earth’s atmosphere has the same amount of oxygen in it, but the lower atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes makes it more difficult for a person to force that oxygen into his lungs. This can obviously lead to increased breathing and heart rates, quicker fatigue and dehydration. It stands to reason that the Denver players will be much more acclimated to the environment than will the Buccaneers.
However, nobody in the Bucs’ locker room seems particularly concerned about playing a mile high.
T Donald Penn played his college football at Utah State in Logan, Utah, which has an elevation of 4,535 feet, about a 1,000 feet lower than Denver. He says the adjustment period should be pretty quick for the visiting team.
“We’ll be ready, we’ll be fine,” he said. “I’ve played up there before. The air, once you get used to it real quick, it doesn’t really affect you once you get going. It might affect you early, but once you get going it becomes natural.”
DE Michael Bennett played in a couple high-altitude stadiums during his days at Texas A&M. He points out that the team will actually arrive in Denver on Saturday and should be able to get used to the difference in the atmosphere by the next day.
“It’s a big difference, but you’ve just got to get used to it – running in and running out,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your breath. You start breathing hard and you can’t have your pants too tight. But once you get out there and breathe it on Saturday you should feel pretty good on Sunday.”