Originally posted on Buc Stop  |  Last updated 8/5/13
It was a great weekend to watch NFL TV wasn't it Bucs fans? We got to see the return of NFL on the tube, and one of our own, Warren Sapp, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame! I especially enjoyed the NFL Films show about Sapp, "Relentless" as it was a very well documented trip down memory lane. Where there a few parts that were a bit off? Sure, there always will be. No one recounts history like history herself. But the one thing I found missing most was the name....the Bucs first defensive star on that great defense, one name that was there in the formation, Hardy Nickerson. Nickerson seems to be coming up missing when people talk about the turn around of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that is not only unfair, but untrue, to think it was all Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.  Double nickle himself will tell you, Hardy "hardware" Nickerson took Brooks under his wing as a rookie linebacker in 1995, and was one of the first players responsible for the turn around. Problem is, Nickerson joined the Bucs in 1993, and under Nickerson, the Bucs endured 4 losing seasons, the last of which was under coach Tony Dungy. Nickerson was also cut by the Bucs after the 1999 season, so he wasnt around for the Super Bowl run. But Hardy Nickerson was every bit as instrumental in helping the Bucs turn around as any of the other big names. If your going to hold the '93 entrance against him, you'll have to hold that against John Lynch too. Lynch was drafted in 1993, and endured those losing season too. And like Brooks, Lynch also benefited from the leadership that was Nickerson.  Just as Sapp and Brooks were not at their best in a "not quite the best system" under Sam Wyche and defensive coordinator Rusty Tilman, its not fair to exclude probably the best middle linebacker the Bucs have ever had when you talk about turn arounds. After the 1999 season, the one in which the Bucs were the leagues best defense, and came within 4 minutes of beating the NO.1 offense on the road 6-5, Tampa Bay made two big changes. Nickerson was let go for budding linebacker and special teams ace Shelton Quarles. And Sapp's sackmate Brad Culpepper was cut during preseason 2000 to allow young Anthony BOOGER McFarland to get into the game.  So just remember as your hearing this new revisionists history about the Bucs turnaround in the mid 90s, that Hardy Nickerson was every bit a part of the turnaround as anyone else. 
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