So at age 34 - almost 11 months after he last wore pads - the veteran cornerback has joined the Giants for the stretch run. The team today announced the signing of Buckley, who played the 2004 season for the Jets. To make room on the roster, the Giants placed William Peterson on injured reserve. Peterson has not played since Sept. 25 because of a back ailment.
Buckley will learn as much of Tim Lewis' defense as possible and attempt to
work himself into football condition so he can contribute when the 8-4 Giants
play Sunday in Philadelphia.
"I'm really looking forward to this. It's probably one of the biggest challenges I've ever had as a player," Buckley said. "That's the way coach (Tom) Coughlin put it - 'if you like challenges, this is probably the biggest one you'll ever have.' So I'm excited about it."
Buckley was asked why this is such a big challenge.
"They've played 12 games already," he said. "The defense is playing great. You don't know your role. You don't know what's going to happen. It's a totally different system. Fourteenth year. You're toward the end. Your babies want you to play. Okay, I like challenges. So we're going to see.
"I started (studying) at 6:30 and I'll go until my eyes are red and I can't take anymore. I'm just trying to absorb everything. Then I have to make sure my body is ready. It's totally different, but it's exciting, too."
With Peterson unable to return to the field, Coughlin wanted someone who can quickly step in and help the defense.
"This gives us the veteran corner with vast experience, a guy who can learn our system fast, who I have tried to bring up to date in terms of where we are, where our team is at, what we need, etc." Coughlin said. "I think he can help us right away. In a role which is very specific, very identified, I think he could help right away."
Coughlin said the acquisition of Buckley was not influenced by the recent play of young corners Curtis Deloatch and Corey Webster, who have struggled at times.
"Not at all," Coughlin said. "If you remember two weeks ago, there was a potential of going into a game with six DBs. That was not a very good situation for our team to be in."
Buckley, who played at Florida State, is 5-10, 184. He was born on June 7, 1971. Buckley entered the NFL as the fifth overall choice of the 1992 draft, by the Green Bay Packers. After three seasons in Wisconsin, he was traded to Miami on April 3, 1995. He played five years for the Dolphins, and in 1996 had a career-high eight interceptions. Buckley spent the 2000 season in Denver - the last time he started 16 games - before moving to New England in 2001 and 2002. Buckley earned a Super Bowl ring in his first season with the Patriots. He returned to Miami in 2003, re-signed with New England on June 8, 2004. The Pats cut him three months later and he spent last season with the Jets. His last game was the AFC Divisional Playoff loss in overtime in Pittsburgh on Jan. 15.
Buckley has scored eight touchdowns, six on interception returns. He has 50 career picks. The other eight defensive backs on the current roster have a total of 61.
Buckley was at his home in Davie, Fla., running his company - which deals
with personal training, fitness and investments - when the Giants inquired about
his willingness to put the pads back on.
"I've been getting calls all year," Buckley said. "I started my own company, so I've been contemplating what I'm going to do. It's been 13 years - it's been wonderful. I was moving forward, but in the back of my mind I was training really hard. I visited New England probably a month-and-a-half ago.
"We (Buckley and the Giants) spoke a bit earlier in the year. My daughter (Sherrell), who's going to be 11 next week, gave me the okay. I had to clear it with her. Here I am. I thought the situation was good. I watched them play last Sunday (a 17-10 victory over Dallas that gave the Giants a one-game lead in the NFC East over the Cowboys). They're doing a great job and we'll see what happens."