The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired former linebacker Hardy Nickerson to serve as the team’s color commentator alongside play-by-play broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff in the team’s radio booth for the 2006 season.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Nickerson said. “Any time get a chance to come back and be part of Buc family, it’s a great honor. It’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”

A five-time Pro Bowler with the Bucs, Nickerson replaces Scot Brantley, who served as the Bucs color analyst for the past six seasons.

“It’s exciting to be back in the Buccaneer family,” Nickerson. “I’m looking forward to calling games and sitting next to Gene Deckerhoff, having a good time and watching a football game. I’ll be sitting next to the best play-by-play man in the history of broadcast radio. He does such a super job, I’ll just be trying to keep up with him.”

Deckerhoff is thrilled to be working with the former player whose name he used to often call after a bone-crushing tackle on third-and-1.

“I’m delighted to be working with Hardy Nickerson, the ‘Hardware Man,” Deckerhoff said. “I can’t wait until we tee it off in the preseason,” Deckerhoff said. “We’ll have a week together in training camp. I can’t wait to say, ‘Touchdown, Tampa Bay!’ again.

“Hardy Nickerson represents the transition from the old orange and white the new pewter and red. He wore both uniforms and proudly for the Buccaneers.”

Nickerson, who was the captain of the Bucs defense, played for the team from 1993-99. He originally entered the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1987-92). He retired from the NFL following the 2002 season after short stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers.

During his seven-year career with Tampa Bay, Nickerson became the team’s all-time leading tackler with 1,028 tackles. That record since has been broken by nine-time Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks, who currently has 1,601 career tackles.

Nickerson said his playing experience, knowledge of the players and his intimate knowledge of the defense will help him explain the action from the radio broadcast booth.

“My goal will be for the fans to get the fans to visualize what’s going on out there and to see the plays as they happen in their minds,” Nickerson said. “Gene does such a great job, but for me, it will be to bring it to life. When Gene says, “[Mike] Alstott busts it up the gut!” my job will be to explain how it happened and to get the fans to understand how he did it.

“I’m going to get better and better with each game. This is going to be a lot of fun.”

CORRECTION: erroneously reported that kicker Matt Bryant was not at the OTA yesterday. Bryant was in fact present at the OTA on Tuesday.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at:
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