One of the usual perks of being an NFL player is not having to worry about your business travel being interrupted by the kind of flight cancellations or delays that are an all too regular occurrence in commercial air travel, but a couple of Buccaneers got a taste of it on Sunday.
Cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting were set to fly to New Jersey on a private plane Sunday morning because they had to wait for final clearance from the COVID-19 reserve list, but found out that the pilot tested positive for COVID ahead of the flight. A new pilot was found, but weather issues caused the flight to divert from its intended path and they didn’t make it to MetLife Stadium until 15 minutes before kickoff against the Jets.
Neither player started, but Dean wound up playing more than half the defensive snaps after taking a little time to get up to speed.
“The hardest part was really just jumping into the game and getting my flow going while everybody else already got their rhythm going,” Dean said, via the team’s website. “So I tried to stay focused in the game and relax. After a few plays, I kind of calmed down. The outcome was hard because the Jets, they came to play. They probably treated it like this was their Super Bowl and what better way to go out knowing that you beat the former Super Bowl champions. So they gave us their best game.”
Murphy-Bunting only played nine snaps before leaving with an injury, but the entire episode turned out to be one of the less dramatic episodes of the Bucs’ trip to the Garden State.