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Retired Nickerson Has No Regrets


Hardy Nickerson played only one season in Green Bay, but even amidst a 16-year NFL career, it stood out as something special.

A week after announcing his retirement from professional football, the 37-year-old Nickerson fondly remembered his Packers campaign, in which he started 15 games and tallied 108 tackles.

"I was around the best record that I had seen as a pro," Nickerson said of the Packers' 12-4 performance in 2002. "We won a lot, and when you're winning, playing football is a lot of fun.

"Of course I hated the way the season ended -- losing at home in the first round of the playoffs was tough to swallow -- but as far as the season went, I have no regrets and can't complain about anything."

He echoes those final sentiments about his entire career.

A University of California alumnus, Nickerson suited up for four NFL teams and five Pro Bowl squads over his pro tenure. He tallied 1,867 tackles, including a career-high 230 with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001.

And for a while this offseason, Nickerson thought that his playing days might continue into 2003, but nagging injuries not only plagued his preparation, they also reminded him of the comforts of home.

"I probably made the decision to retire at the end of May," Nickerson said. "I tried to hold out as long as I could, hoping that some team would want me to come back, but I had some injuries that just weren't cooperating.

"And being around my family in that time, taking the kids to school, taking them to softball and baseball, going on field trips and camping, it was just a lot of fun for me. I started to feel like retirement wasn't such a bad idea."

Without football to occupy him, Nickerson will have even more time for his three children, Ashleigh (12), Hardy and Haleigh (9). But he'll also continue to make a difference in the lives of others outside his family through the Hardy Nickerson Foundation, a charitable organization that creates mentoring and developmental programs for at-risk youth.

His humanitarian efforts are nothing new. Back in 1997, Nickerson was selected as the winner of the Byron "Whizzer" White Award, giving annually by the NFL Players Association to a player that exhibits excellence both on the field and in the community.

But Nickerson also plans to use his retirement to relax, which will be quite a departure for a man so identifiable by his tireless pursuit of success.

"I've worked extremely hard to get to this point, and I played a long time," Nickerson said. "I gave it all I had. I didn't cheat the game of football. I went at it full bore.

"I have no regrets and certainly could go home and put my head on the pillow knowing I'd done everything I possibly could to help my teams win."

Compared to six seasons in Pittsburgh (1987-92), seven in Tampa Bay (93-99) and two in Jacksonville (2000-01), Nickerson's tour through Green Bay was the shortest of them all, but, to him, no less significant.

"My time with the Packers was a lot of fun," he said. "I enjoyed being around those players.

"I'd met Brett (Favre) before, played against him, but being a teammate of his, I got a new perspective. Those relationships and bonds are the thing I'll remember."

When he has time to remember, that is. For now, Nickerson has his hands full at home just adjusting to retirement life.

"The kids are pretty excited, and my wife is, too," he said. "Now they know Dad is always going to be home."

And, like his NFL career, Nickerson finds no regret in that.

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