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If you were less than enthusiastic watching NFL games in empty stadiums last fall, you weren’t alone. Even the players felt the dullness of fan-less stadiums stemming from Covid overreactions. Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said as much and more during an appearance on the The Rich Eisen Show: “Going to some places and not having any fans during the Covid year … it was insane. Honestly I felt like sometimes it felt like it was a scrimmage instead of an actual game.”
Buckner joined the Colts last winter after a trade from San Francisco. He found that the league -required social distancing made for a tougher adjustment to his new team: “The camaraderie and just trying to build a team, you know what I mean, it was hard having to do all that social distancing, doing a lot of things virtually, it definitely wasn’t the same,” Buckner told Eisen.
Not unlike many Americans, the excessive Covid protocols quickly got old for Buckner: “Going through all those protocols; testing every day, having that social distancing, the virtual stuff, wearing a mask every day in the facility — I was just tired of it. I just wanted to go about my daily life and try to have some type of normalcy.”
Despite the laundry list of Covid distractions, Buckner still excelled in his first season with Indy. He was named the AFC’s defensive of player of the month for his standout play in December and earned All-Pro honors following the season.
On the heels of the 2021 season, a finally maskless Buckner appeared physically ready to repeat his All-Pro performance at Colts’ minicamp.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) May 26, 2021
Earlier this week, the Colts announced a return to normalcy, as they were approved for full capacity at home games. Meaning 63,000 fans can once again pack Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. Buckner looks forward to playing both at Lucas Oil, and on the road against his former 49ers teammates: “I’m definitely gonna be excited.” Said Buckner. “Especially this year, being able to face some teams in my old division and also obviously facing my former team, it’s gonna be exciting.”
Indianapolis reports to training camp in less than a month, on July 27th.