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Takeo Spikes: Never let a day go by

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by Travis Duncan, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. Travis Duncan

    Travis Duncan BoltTalker

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chargers linebackers Takeo Spikes (51) and Demorrio Williams (58) Credit: Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIRE

    By Travis Duncan
    Bolttalk.com writer

    "I think it kind of started at lunch today."

    "He asked me a question that I sat back and thought about, and I was like, wow."

    The rookie asked the veteran linebacker how he had managed to stay competitive and driven after 15 years of professional football.

    It started in Sandersville, Georgia, where he was named Mr. Football, which led him to Auburn and then as the first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1998.

    By some accounts the veteran has had a career, labeled by one prominent magazine writer, of "misfortune".

    "Damn, it has been 15 years coming up," he responded, explaining to the rookie about "the love of the game."

    There was Takeo Gerard Spikes with rookie De'Andre Presley, the young cornerback out of Appalachian State on the practice field at Charger Park, well after training camp had ended last week.

    Presley was playing receiver to Mr. Spikes, the linebacker dropped back in coverage. Spikes was almost giddy, though hidden behind a strong, broad face dripping with sweat, to spend time with the rookie 13 years his junior.

    "He's hungry, he wants it, he asked and I've got to give it to him. He's helping me out at the same time."

    It was just four years ago that Spikes was released by the Philadelphia Eagles, which saved the team $5 million in salary cap space. Spikes had a shoulder injury and the Eagles had young linebackers they were excited about.

    Spikes then played two productive seasons in San Francisco, losing but personally productive seasons, before signing a three-year contract with the Chargers last summer. In his debut season with the Chargers he led the team in total tackles with 106, despite a concussion, back and biceps injuries.

    "Someone asked me do you get bored?" Spikes said. "How can you get bored at something that you can't perfect?"

    Spikes has totaled 1,345 tackles and played in 203 games but has never played in a playoff game. He holds the NFL record for that.

    Of course the Chargers have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, but they would, with the talent assembled, only have themselves to blame if they aren't playing in a 17th game in January.

    "That's why I want to win -- for guys like Takeo,'" Philip Rivers told a Sports Illustrated writer last week as he watched Spikes put in extra work after practice.

    When Chargers general manager A.J. Smith signed Spikes in 2001, he said the team was in desperate need of leadership. And that's what Spikes provides is a constant vocal leader, preaching effort, intensity and pursuit.

    The 35-year old Spikes knows sooner than later, he'll be looking back at a two-decade football career, albeit as one of the best to play the linebacker position, but knowing that it will end.

    "The main thing for me is not really let a day go by and say I wish. I wish I would have, or if."

    "That's why I spend extra time out here after practice. That's why I spend extra time in film. Because I never want to look back and say I wish, or if."
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