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January 7, 2014 @ 6:59 pm
Current rating: 3.00 Stars/2 Votes

Nickerson Returns To Bucs As Linebackers Coach

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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New Bucs head coach Lovie Smith hinted on Monday that there could be some familiar faces roaming the halls of One Buc Place again, and true to his word, former great Hardy Nickerson has joined Smith's staff to coach linebackers. Could there be more joining him?
In the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers," which was set in Chicago, Dan Akroyd and John Belushi traveled the country attempting to put their band back together.

New Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith may be following suit, as former Tampa Bay Pro Bowl middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson has agreed to become the Bucs linebackers for Smith.

Nickerson is credited with setting the tone for the Bucs turnaround back in the 1990’s. Signed as a free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993, the California-born Nickerson, known for his nasty streak, came to the lowly Buccaneers and was an immediate example setter. Nickerson’s attitude and work ethic were something that hasn’t been seen in several years inside the Buccaneers locker room, and at times, Nickerson led not only by example, but also with physical force. Altercations with players that Nickerson felt were giving 100 percent effort are well known in Tampa Bay lore.

Nickerson made the Pro Bowl five times in seven seasons in Tampa Bay, manning the middle and thriving in the Tampa 2 defense under Tony Dungy – and Smith – joined the staff in 1996. In addition to the Pro Bowl honors earned, Nickerson was named All-Pro four times and was also named to the 1990’s All-Decade Team. Nickerson's 214 tackles during the 1993 season, set a single-season record in Tampa Bay that stands today.

After Nickerson’s Bucs career ended, the former Cal Bear went on to play three more seasons in the league, two in Jacksonville and one in Green Bay. Nickerson finished his NFL career with 1,586 tackles, 21 sacks and 12 interceptions.

After he retired, Nickerson was the color analyst alongside Gene Deckerhoff for the Buccaneers Radio Network in 2006 before leaving to serve as the linebackers coach for Smith with the Chicago Bears in 2007.

Nickerson stepped down after the 2007 season due to a family health issue, but went back into coaching as the head coach for Bishop O'Dowd High School where he coached his son, linebacker Hardy Nickerson, Jr., in Oakland from 2010 until stepping down this past November.

During Smith’s introductory press conference at One Buc Place on Monday, Smith hinted there could be some familiar faces brought back to the organization, and obviously now he was speaking of Nickerson.
"As I’m putting our coaching staff together right now, hopefully there are – it would be great to get an old Buccaneer back on our staff, “ Smith said.

Smith wants his new Bucs players to understand and embrace the tradition of the team's glory days.

“One thing I am going to do, I’m reaching out, I’m going to reach out to all our former greats, our former Buccaneers will always be welcomed here," Smith said on Monday. "We want them around. We want our current players to feel that pressure of how they’re supposed to perform each week. Some places don’t have the tradition that we have, but we’re going to definitely draw on that as much as we can.”

Nickerson is the first former Bucs player hired under Smith, but there could be more. On Monday Smith was asked about the possibility of Derrick Brooks joining the organization in some capacity.

"My job title duties don’t take me that far, but Derrick Brooks in any organization is a good thing, I will say that,” Smith said. “I think most of you know how I feel about Derrick, just one of the classiest, best guys out there, you want him of course. It’s great that he represents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As I go through this beautiful building, for some of you out here that I know, hasn’t One Buc changed quite a bit from the last time I was here? It’s great to see so many pictures of Derrick up around here.”

– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 10:57

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  • avatar

    If Hardy was not a good Coach, Lovie would be picking someone else. He coached for Lovie, so Lovie knows he will make a good Coach here, and after all, when Hardy was a player, he coached the younger players just like some of our veterans on this team did last year. He certainly taught a lot to Brooks and he sure turned out well. Maybe he can bring Foster up to the same success that David has been displaying. Mental attitude is just as important to winning as physical talent, and Hardy will definitely bring the right attitude to inspire the Bucs' linebackers.
  • avatar

    Glad to see one of my all-time favorite Bucs come back to help this team. Apparently, Lovie thinks he'll be an excellent LB coach, & that's good enough for me. Shouldn't be hard to coach L. David & M. Foster anyway!
  • avatar

    I appreciate the great player- Nickerson. But do great players make great coaches???? He coached In the NFL for one year with Lovie/Bears. Then he became a High School Head Coach. Does all of that Translate to being a great LB Coach for the Bucs. I don't Know. I hope so.
  • avatar

    Glad to have Coach Nickerson on board.
  • avatar

    Aaaaaah, I feel like I just dropped an 8 lb turd now that we have a REAL coaching staff coming to form. Tradition and standards is a great foundation. Where are those fickel few (I wont post names) who was on Shiano's bone? Standing with him in the unemployment line? Please dont return.
  • avatar

    Outstanding! I love that he as already been a LB coach. I especially like that he's already been a LB coach for Lovie.
  • avatar

    Great Hire! Glad Hardy is back! He will do great because he learned from Lovie, taught with Lovie and help teach LBs like D Brooks.They will have a game plan in place for teaching the LBs and Hardy also has a lot of Pro Bowl LB experience. He will be great for sure.
  • avatar

    The "Hardware Man" returneth. Hardy was the force behind getting the Bucs locker room back on the right track. If you don't believe it just ask Keith McCants. If you can find him. Well hardy returns to a team that is in the right frame of mind to win, all he has to do is coach em up.
  • avatar

    Nickerson, great player, coach? Hope this is not going to be a Schiano Rutgers good ole boy team as that does not work.
  • avatar

  • avatar

    Not Brooks but I'll take it. Great hire.
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