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Hardy Nickerson to join Buccaneers as assistant coaching linebackers

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El Dragón is back in town as the Bucs will see Hardy Nickerson be an assistant, coaching linebackers*.

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images Sport
Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images Sport

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will add one of their legends to the coaching staff, according to Rick Stroud. Hardy Nickerson will be an assistant, coaching linebackers under Lovie Smith. He previously coached linebackers for Lovie Smith in 2007 for the Chicago Bears but resigned in January of that year.

"El Dragón" was the head football coach of the Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland for the past three years, but to Bucs he'll be best known as being the devastating middle linebacker who was crucial to turning the Buccaneers into a winning organization. He came to Tampa as a premium free agent in 1993, one of very few free agents to willingly choose to go Tampa in that day and age, and made five Pro Bowls and was selected as All-Pro four times over his remaining tenure.

Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp frequently talk about his importance to instilling work ethic in them and helping them learn how to study in the NFL. Of course, he was just as well-known for his outstanding on-field play as a hard-hitting, fiery linebacker.

Nickerson left the team after the loss to the St. Louis Rams in the 1999 NFC Championship and sadly didn't get to participate in the team's Super Bowl run in 2002. But he was a major part of the team's move toward respectability and, most importantly, winning.

Lovie Smith in his opening press conference talked about getting the old legends more involved with the team, inviting them to come over and perhaps finding ways for them to contribute to the team. Maybe this is the first step toward seeing more of the old gang around One Buc Place.

* an earlier version said Nickerson would be the assistant linebackers coach, but Rick Stroud's tweet is phrased saying he's an assistant who will coach linebackers.