A Special Coach/Player Relationship

Bisaccia is Nixon's biggest fan.

In 2019 Rich Bisaccia was the assistant head coach and coordinator of special teams for the (then) Oakland Raiders. In the spring of that year he was assigned to attend the Pro Day workouts of a player the Raiders were interested in drafting at the University of South Carolina. 

But while grading that player, it was somebody else that caught his eye. A smallish defensive back who was not on anybody’s radar. Bisaccia couldn’t help but notice the young prospect scorched the field with a 4.38 time in the forty. He began to research the player, whose name was Keisean Nixon. 

He learned that Nixon grew up on the mean streets of Compton, California. Yes, that’s the same city whose violent gang culture was graphically depicted in the 1988 movie Straight Outta Compton. Nixon somehow managed to stay out of trouble, attending different schools and excelling in track & field, as well as playing running back and cornerback on the football team. 

With little or no interest from major colleges, Nixon started off at Arizona Western junior college, where he earned second team All-American honors. That got him noticed by a few big time schools, and he transferred to South Carolina as a junior. He was relegated to mostly just special teams his first year in Columbia, but he was so grateful for the opportunity to play big time college football, he was determined to excel on kick return and coverage teams. 

As a special teams coach, that certainly enhanced Bisaccia’s interest. He further learned that Nixon took a big step as a senior, starting eleven games at corner and leading the team with nine pass break-ups. The more Bisaccia found out about this 5’10”, 200 pounder, the more he began to admire him. 

Nixon’s overall college career did not impress the pro scouts, and he went undrafted in 2019. But they didn’t know the character of the young man the way Bisaccia did. The assistant coach successfully lobbied Raiders’ management to sign Nixon as a free agent. As a pro, Nixon showed the same effort, leadership and dedication on special teams. 

When Bisaccia was passed over for the Raiders’ head coaching job in 2022, Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur quickly snatched him up to coordinate the bottom-dwelling special teams of the Packers. One of Bisaccia’s first moves? Successfully talking Brian Gutekunst into bringing Nixon over to the green and gold. You know the rest of the story. Nixon has been an All Pro kick returner for the past two seasons, and has won the nickel cornerback job as well. He has been impressive enough to motivate the Packers to re-sign him to a three year deal averaging six million dollars per season. He’s come a long way from the streets of Compton. 

None of this is surprising to Bisaccia, who this week expressed his admiration of the sixth year veteran to the beat writers. He also revealed the defensive back has been dealing with a serious health situation in his family. “I absolutely adore Keisean Nixon. I have from the first time I went to the Pro Day at South Carolina and watched him run,” Bisaccia said. “If you know his story, he’s been to, like, four high schools and junior college, and then his Mom getting sick and she fights the roller coaster of cancer up and down.” 

Which is not to say that Nixon doesn’t occasionally frustrate his special teams coach. The speedster loves to field kickoffs deep in his own end zone and try to run them out in an effort to make a big play. Sometimes, he does. Other times he gets tackled inside the twenty yard line, much to the frustration of the coaches.  

Bisaccia separates the player from the person, saying the player is “the guy I get pissed at. I get mad at (number) 25, but it’s rare that I get mad at Keisean Nixon, the man that he is and the man he is developing into, the father that he is, and the teammate he has become here.” 

Nixon is a bit of a free spirit and unique personality, and Bisaccia credits LaFleur and the rest of the staff with allowing the player to “be himself” and “lead in his own way” instead of “being some sort of robot.” 

For his part, Nixon has mentioned on numerous occasions that Bisaccia is a big reason he came to Green Bay. Clearly, the love and respect is mutual. It’s the kind of relationship that can only be healthy for a locker room. The kind of relationship that can be, and probably has been, contagious throughout the team. 




Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.


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9 points

Comments (7)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PackEyedOptimist's picture

May 10, 2024 at 12:36 pm

Great piece Ken!

6 points
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

May 10, 2024 at 01:55 pm

This is a good spot to repeat that #25 is the hungriest player on the team, and that he goes back a ways with Josh Jacobs. Hopefully they infect the whole locker room!

7 points
BruceC1960's picture

May 10, 2024 at 02:02 pm

Glad he is still a Packer. He is the dog we’ve needed. Hope he has some company in his pack now.

3 points
Packers0808's picture

May 10, 2024 at 02:39 pm

What a nice story and compliment to both of these men.

5 points
porupack's picture

May 10, 2024 at 07:47 pm

Thanks Ken. Great to learn more about the person behind the numbers.

2 points
Matt's picture

May 11, 2024 at 03:07 pm

I hope he will feast on the rules change.

0 points
Johnblood27's picture

May 12, 2024 at 08:52 am

Little known factoid...

The Packers have 2 graduates of the SnoopDogg Football League on their roster right now.


Keisean Nixon


Romeo Doubs

Hows that strike ya?

0 points

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