Why Hardy Nickerson picked the Packers

Hardy Nickerson took his time last weekend and spoke only with close friends and relatives about his pleasant problem of choosing between playing for the Green Bay Packers or Philadelphia Eagles this year. When it came time to pick a team, Nickerson asked his agent to phone Green Bay and get him to Titletown for a few simple reasons.<p>

"One of the factors that weighed heavy in the decision to come here was to be a Packer," Nickerson told the Green Bay media today. "Be part of the tradition here, the history of this organization. When you look at all that, being a longtime football fan and reading about the history of this league, the first team and the first organization that comes to mind is the Green Bay Packers. To be part of that, in my opinion, is something you just can't pass up.

"I'm sure we've all seen the commercials where a guy is talking about a pair of shoes is 20 dollars, a T-shirt is $15, playing catch with your son priceless. Well, being a Packer is priceless."

And so is a good chance of winning a Super Bowl. The Packers, with the addition of Nickerson, are bonafide contenders to win an NFL title this season.Pp> Nickerson signed what is believed to be a one- or two-year contract with the Packers on Wednesday. He becomes the third Pro Bowler added to the team this off-season. The Packers traded for wide receiver Terry Glenn in March. Green Bay then signed unrestricted free agent defensive end Joe Johnson a few weeks later.

"We've made some bold moves with Glenn and Johnson and Nickerson, and there was a lot of discussion about future cap and making sure we were not in the mortgaging business," Packers chief negotiator Andrew Brandt told the Associated Press. "We're not mortgaging the future with this signing."

Nickerson is expected to start at middle linebacker ahead of second-year pro Torrance Marshall. The Packers also signed veteran Robert Jones in late May, but Jones probably will be used as a backup at one of the outside positions behind Nate Wayne and Na'il Diggs.

Nickerson, 36, is entering his 16th season, but he is coming off one of his better seasons last year with Jacksonville. He set a team record with 230 tackles and had three interceptions. Nickerson has been to the Pro Bowl five times, but has only played in seven playoff games during his six seasons in Pittsburgh, seven in Tampa Bay and last two in Jacksonville.

"What I'm after at this point in my career is to be part of a team, to have those memories that you carry with you for a long time and to be part of a special football team," Nickerson said. "In the evaluation process, I felt like this is a very, very special situation that I can contribute to."

Nickerson visited with coaches and personnel at Packers headquarters today. He is expected to take the playbook home with him to California. Packers coach also may work with him between now and the start of training camp at his home in an effort to prepare him for the upcoming season.

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