Nickerson rejoins Bucs as color analyst

Published May 17, 2006

TAMPA - Hardy Nickerson, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker who helped establish Tampa Bay's defense in the 1990s, will be back with the Bucs this season.

On the radio.

Nickerson will join the team's official broadcast team as color analyst with play-by-play announcer Gene Deckerhoff, the team announced Wednesday. And the hard-hitting former player expects to be just as tough in the booth as on the field.

"I have an opinion," Nickerson said. "I'll bring it on game day."

Deckerhoff returns for his 18th season. Nickerson replaces Scot Brantley, the former Bucs linebacker whose contract was not renewed after seven seasons.

Nickerson, 40, played seven of his 16 seasons with the Bucs from 1993-99, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1993 and from 1996-99. He helped lead the team to the 1999 NFC Championship Game and was named to the NFL's All-Decade second-team for the 1990s.

Though his final three seasons were with Jacksonville and Green Bay, he is not far removed from his Tampa Bay playing days. Having former teammates who still play for the Bucs, including linebacker Derrick Brooks, will test Nickerson's ability to be critical. Mostly, he hopes to create images and provide insight.

"I'll be able to explain everything," he said. "My job is to bring the plays to life and for the listeners to hear and know what it means when a linebacker shoots a gap. What does it mean when we're playing Cover 2? What happens when someone runs a seam route?

"Fans will be thinking, "What's a seam route?' Well, that's my job. The guy was running down the hash marks and he caught it down the middle of the field. That's a seam route."

Nickerson gained broadcast experience working NFL Europe Games for the NFL Network in 2004. He hopes the Tampa Bay radio booth won't be too much different than sitting in his living room.

"Every Sunday I'd be watching the Buccaneer games anyway, my son and I, just talking through the games," said Nickerson, who retired after 2002. "The difference is I'll have a microphone in front of my face now and I won't be sitting on the sofa, but I'll have the best seat in the house. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Nickerson will commute from his home in Charlotte, N.C.