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Spikes will reach NFL milestone on Monday night

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Acee: Takeo Spikes on verge of almost unfathomable milestone

    A two-hour practice in the heat of an August afternoon had ended 15 minutes prior. Yet Chargers linebackers coach Joe Barry was just making his way off the field.

    “He’s wearing me out,” Barry said, smiling and shaking his head.

    Behind Barry came one of the several wonders of the NFL.

    “You can never work too much,” Takeo Spikes said as a waterfall of perspiration cascaded from his head down his tree trunk neck.

    Evidently not. For that, Spikes is on the verge of an accomplishment that is almost absurd.

    On Monday night in Oakland, he will do what just seven men have ever done.

    Spikes will start his 200th game. At linebacker.

    He said he didn’t know about the milestone until I told him a couple weeks ago. More recently, he said, “It hasn’t hit me yet. It’s a great honor. I really don’t know how many guys accomplished that; I know it’s few. It’s a big deal.”

    A simple response from a man who simply loves playing football.
    But please put this in perspective, even aside from the historic numbers, which indicate on their own that the 35-year-old Spikes is a marvel.

    “The guy is a machine,” Barry said. “He’s an absolute machine.”

    Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, a player whose position at least puts him in the same orbit as a linebacker in terms of number of times each game that he collides with another large human, said when he was in a car accident recently it felt the next day as if he had played four games.

    By that math, Spikes has endured about 50 car accidents over the past 14 seasons. That’s probably a conservative estimation.

    And he keeps coming back for more.

    Just four times in his 14 seasons has Spikes even missed a game. Only once has he played fewer than 12 games.

    And he evidently hasn’t given thought to when it will end.

    Just four linebackers in NFL history have played more than 15 seasons.
    “People ask me all the time, ‘How long do you want to play?’ “ Spike said. “If I could play this game forever, I would. But that’s not possible. So, you know what, I take it day by day.”

    Day by difficult day.

    “The numbers speak for themselves -- the years, his age, the games,” Barry said.

    But what speaks louder are the reasons Spikes has gotten to this point.
    After 14 years in the NFL, Spikes expected Barry to challenge him every day this summer – be it after practice for those 15-minute sessions on hand placement during a blitz or during special teams period for a tutorial on pass coverage.

    “It’s just unbelievable how he goes about it,” said Barry, who coached Derrick Brooks in Tampa Bay for seven seasons and easily draws comparisons between the two. “When a player has God-given ability -- great physical tools, he can run, he’s fast, he can change direction – and takes those great abilities and adds unbelievable work ethic, you’ve got a great player ... What makes him special is what makes him unique – not only the ability he has, but the inner drive he has.”

    Spikes’ investment in his career is total. He practically employs a masseuse full-time. He regularly sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber. He is a proud hypochondriac.

    “The biggest thing is coming in tune with your body,” he said. “After you have some injuries and you pay attention to the small things. If it’s a hangnail, I treat it just as bad as if it was a torn hamstring because if you take care of things while they are little, then they never have the opportunity to grow up and be big.

    Spikes has never been to the playoffs and has been since arriving in San Diego last summer consumed by helping the Chargers get there. Speaking with him on any given day leaves no doubt as to that.

    But even if he doesn’t do so, his contribution could last longer than what he does while he’s here.

    Perhaps Spikes’ greatest legacy is that he is who Donald Butler and Melvin Ingram and Jonas Mouton will be talking about in five or six years when they’re asked who had the greatest impact on their career.

    When he got done joking – “He’s older than dirt … We need to check his birth certificate.” – Butler said as much. Spikes has imparted knowledge gained from experience on everything from how to read offenses and decipher defenses, preparation in the meeting room and weight room, diet and down time.

    “It’s mind-blowing to even think about," Butler said, in all seriousness, of how long Spikes has played and how much he knows.

    Barry alternately calls him a machine and a beast.

    There are all sorts of reasons guys wash out of the NFL before they should, and it’s not always injury or because someone else is better. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t want to put in the work.

    Spikes has played almost four times as long as the league average.

    I call what he is doing absolutely amazing.
     
  2. SatchBolt

    SatchBolt BoltTalker

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    Who are the other 7 linebackers?
     
  3. Lance19

    Lance19 BoltTalker

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    Geez...how sloppy is it to say that being #8 is huge, and then not list the top 7?!?

    I'll start the ball rolling...Ray Lewis is a no-brainer. Derrick Brooks should have over 200.
    Clay Matthews Jr. (the Brown, not the Packer). I'm guessing Junior did, too. That's 4 guys.

    Borderline: Romanowski? Ted Hendricks? Rickey Jackson? Zach Thomas?

    The guys who played before the '70s were hamstrung by 12 & 14 game seasons...
    and I don't recall "starts" even being an official stat until relatively recently.
    Do we even know how many games Huff or Butkus started, for sure?
     
  4. Chico Andy

    Chico Andy BoltTalker

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    1. Clay Matthews 248 1978-1996 2TM
    2. Junior Seau 243 1990-2009 3TM
    3. Rickey Jackson+ 225 1981-1995 2TM
    4. Bill Romanowski 222 1988-2003 4TM
    5. Ray Lewis (36) 221 1996-2011 rav
    Derrick Brooks 221 1995-2008 tam
    7. London Fletcher (36) 208 1998-2011 3TM
    8. Cornelius Bennett 204 1987-2000 3TM
    9. Mo Lewis 200 1991-2003 nyj
    Hardy Nickerson 200 1987-2002 4TM
    11. Takeo Spikes (35) 199 1998-2011 5TM
    12. James Farrior (36) 197 1997-2011 2TM

    My researched shows that Takeo will actually be the 11th LB to start 200 games. Amazingly, three on the list (R. Lewis, D. Brooks and M. Lewis) only played for one team! I added Farrior to the list, as he is about to crack the 200 barrier as well. The players in bold denote active players.

    For a list of all players, see below.
    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/gs_career.htm
     
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  5. Lance19

    Lance19 BoltTalker

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    That's a handy link.

    My guesses (except Zach Thomas) weren't too bad.

    But my other guess would be that you're mistaken about Spikes being the 11th.
    The discrepancy probably lies in an assumption that a guy known principally
    as a linebacker, necessarily started all his games at that position.
    Rickey Jackson, for instance, started a lot of games at defensive end.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1

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