AFI’s All-Pandemic Team: Defensive Back – Niko Lester – Carlstad Crusaders, Triangle Razorbacks

The AFI All-Pandemic Team selection panel was faced with a dilemma in the case of defensive back Niko Lester.

Not whether he should be on the team. There was no question about that. He was definitely on the team. But which position?

Niko Lester is so dangerous and versatile he was used all over the field playing in two different leagues (Danish and Swedish) for two different teams (Triangle Razorbacks and Carlstad Crusaders). He could easily have been picked as a wide receiver but defensive back was where he had a huge impact.

In the Swedish semifinals against the Orebro Black Knights, Lester had three interceptions including the game winner in overtime. He signed with Carlstad late in the season and was a key to the Crusaders title run, their first in three years.

Carlstad head coach Billy BD Kennedy had high praise for the German national team player:

“Niko joined our team late in the year when Denmark canceled their season. Niko came in and did a fantastic job! He was a great performer on the field and an outstanding leader and teammate. He is definitely an impact player and a fantastic person.”

The 28 year old, 6’2″, 210 pound native of Kaiserslauten, Germany had first finished a season with the Triangle Razorbacks in Denmark that ended early, just as the playoffs were about to start, due to the pandemic.

Lester has spent that past three years with the Razorbacks, helping them win the 2019 Danish title while also finding time to play for the Spanish champions, the Badalona Dracs earlier in this year,  during a season which was also cut short. In the four games he had 15 catches for 242 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

Triangle Razorbacks head coach Peter Nicolajsen:

“Niko is the most impactful player I have been around, he obviously has the physical and technical attributes, but the combination of football understanding, work ethic, team emphasis, and ability to perform in pressure situations makes him so valuable. His highlights are incredible, but if I think of his most important contributions to our team, most of them go beyond even the – huge and crucial – plays he makes.”

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