The Jacksonville Jaguars today signed linebacker Hardy Nickerson, one of the most productive linebackers of the 1990s and a five-time Pro Bowl selection. Length and terms of the contract are not released.
Nickerson, 34, is a 14-year veteran who is the Buccaneers' all-time leader in tackles with 1,028. He began his NFL career as a fifth-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987 (122nd overall). He spent six years with the Steelers, playing under then-Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dom Capers in 1992 before signing with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in '93. He started 61 of 84 games played for the Steelers, leading the team in tackles twice. In Tampa Bay, he started all 104 games in which he played - missing only eight games in seven seasons, including the final six in 1998 because of a bout of pericarditis (an inflammation of the sac around the heart). He started all 16 games in 1999, when he made 141 tackles (70 solo), half a sack, three tackles for loss, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and six passes defensed.
In his 14 NFL seasons, Nickerson has career totals of 188 games played (more than any other Jaguars player) and 165 starts, accumulating 1,454 tackles (908 solo), 22 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, eight interceptions and 18.5 sacks. He was voted first-team All-Pro in 1993 and second-team All-Pro in 1996, '97 and '99, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1993 and 1996-99.
Nickerson was a four-year letterman at the University of California, where he broke the school's career tackle record before reaching his senior season. As a senior in 1986, he was second-team All-Pac 10 and a finalist for the Butkus Award, symbolic of the nation's top collegiate linebacker. He attended Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles and was born in Compton, Calif.
Nickerson's off-field efforts in the community match his on-field exploits. In 1997, he received the Byron "Whizzer" White Award which is presented annually to a player who shows profound commitment to his community, and he established the Hardy Nickerson Foundation to design mentoring and developmental programs for at-risk youth. Nickerson and his wife, Amy, have a daughter Ashleigh and twins Hardy and Haleigh.