Throughout the season upended by COVID, the subject of playing in a near-empty stadium came up over and over again. Whether it was the oddity of playing in front of no one (or very few) fans, the ability for the team to create its own energy when no one was in the stands, or the ups and downs of the fans allowed at State Farm Stadium (first none, then all the way up to 4,200, and then moved back to only family of players, coaches and staff again), it was a constant storyline.
Sure, players and Kliff Kingsbury would say, it was strange but it was something with which everyone had to deal. Yes, they wished fans could be there but they couldn't, and that was life in 2020.
But there was something to the random tweet running back Kenyan Drake sent out this week, when he said to fans "football missed you guys."
Drake noted the Cards' best game as a team was in Dallas, when there were just shy of 25,000 fans in the stadium. (For the moment, we'll put aside the pros and cons of having that many people together, however distanced they might have been in their actual seats, during a pandemic.) I have been to a ton of games over my 21-plus seasons, and it was obvious how different the game is when a crowd is not part of it. Sure, it could have changed road games. I definitely feel a huge home crowd could've and would've changed the flow of the home finale against the 49ers. But as the guys said all season, everyone was in the same situation.
Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill acknowledged we still don't know what the fall is going to be like as the world tries to get the pandemic under control, and get vaccines distributed. I know everyone involved is hoping the crowds can be back by the time the regular season returns. It makes that kind of an impact.
(And yes, Drake admitted on a follow-up tweet perhaps "infectious" wasn't the best term to use. It made me smile for sure.)