Spikes with the Chargers in 2012
|Date of birth:||December 17, 1976|
|Place of birth:||Augusta, Georgia|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||242 lb (110 kg)|
|High school:||Sandersville (GA) Washington Co.|
|NFL Draft:||1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Takeo Gerard Spikes (//; born December 17, 1976) is a former American football linebacker who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Auburn University. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals 13th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. A two-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro, Spikes also played for the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers.
Spikes is one of only 7 linebackers to achieve more than 200 career starts with the NFL. Only once did Spikes record less than 70 tackles in a season. He has been team captain 13 out of his 15 seasons of play. Spikes has the distinction of playing in 219 regular season games without a playoff appearance, which is the most in NFL history.
After retiring from the NFL, Spikes became a media personality. He is currently a football analyst on NBC Sports Network, and he co-hosts SiriusXM NFL programs.
Spikes was born in Augusta, Georgia. In high school at Washington County High School in Sandersville, Georgia he earned All-American honors from Parade and USA Today and was named Georgia's "Mr. Football" by state coaches as a senior. Spikes was also named Georgia Player of the Year as a senior.
Takeo entered Auburn University, majoring in liberal arts. In the 1997 campaign, he led Auburn with 136 tackles as Auburn advanced to the SEC Championship game where they were defeated, 30-29, by the Tennessee Volunteers led by Peyton Manning. Spikes was named MVP for his performance in this game. Spikes was college teammates with productive tailback Stephen Davis.
Spikes entered the 1998 NFL Draft and was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals. In his rookie season he started all preseason games and all regular season games. He became the first rookie to lead the Bengals in tackles since James Francis led them in 1990. He also led the team by total snaps played on offense and defense, which added up to 997.
In 1999, he was the team captain, playing in all his games as a Right Inside Linebacker and a Right Linebacker. He forced four fumbles and recovered four, leading the team in fumble recoveries as well.
In 2000, he played every game as a Right Linebacker and recorded 128 tackles. He passed the 100 tackle mark for the third straight time and led the team in tackles and fumble recoveries.
In 2001, Spikes started at RLB for all of the 15 games he played that season. He once again led the team in solo and total tackles in the 2001 campaign. Spikes missed Game 5 because of his father's death. Spikes dedicated the season, and the remainder of his professional career to his father. He wrote his dad's name on the tape he wrapped around his wrists for the remaining 12 games of the season.
The 2002 season was his final season with the Bengals, as he played all 16 games. In his tenure with the Bengals, he played 79 of a possible 80 games, missing only one for his father's funeral. He led the team in solo and total tackles once again and scored his second defensive TD by way of fumble recovery. Following the season, Spikes was given the designated player tag making him a restricted free agent. After not finishing better than 6-10 during any of his seasons in Cincinnati, Spikes stated he rather sign with a playoff contender. (Though rather ironically, the Bills did not make the playoffs for the entire 2000's decade, while the Bengals went 11-5 and won their division in 2005).
The Buffalo Bills signed Spikes to an offersheet worth $32 million over six years, that the Bengals did not match. The 2003 season earned Spikes his first Pro Bowl selection. He recorded 126 tackles, with the addition of a pair of sacks, a pair of interceptions, and a pair of fumble recoveries.
On September 25, 2005, Spikes suffered a season-ending tear to his right Achilles' tendon while tackling Michael Vick during the Bills 24-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. In 2006, while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Spikes played in 12 games while missing 4 games early in the season due to a hamstring injury. During the first series of the first game of the year, Spikes made a blind side sack on Patriots QB Tom Brady, forcing a fumble which was recovered by Bills LB London Fletcher for a touchdown. The sack and forced fumble were Spikes' only of the season.
On March 26, 2007, he was traded alongside Kelly Holcomb to the Philadelphia Eagles, in exchange for Darwin Walker and a 2008 draft pick. After an effective first season as an Eagle, Spikes season was cut short in week 14 when he suffered a torn rotator cuff injury against the Dallas Cowboys, a game the Eagles won 10-6.
With emerging linebackers Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither ready to take over, the Eagles chose not to pick up his team option, thus making him a free agent. Ironically, the Eagles made the playoffs six of the previous seven years before he was traded there, and also the following three after he left (including a trip to the NFC Championship game the next year). However, by not making the playoffs in his lone season in Philadelphia, Spikes had gone eight seasons without being part of a playoff team.
On August 10, 2008, Spikes was signed by the San Francisco 49ers on the same day they released linebacker Brandon Moore. Spikes was assigned No. 51, with Dontarrious Thomas changing from 51 to 56 - the number previously worn by Moore. On February 27, 2009 Takeo was re-signed to a 2-year contract. Spikes was team captain in San Francisco all 3 years of play.
Spikes recorded 1 sack and 3 interceptions in the 2008 season. In 2009, Spikes recorded 4 sacks and missed one game due to an injury on November 1, 2009. In San Francisco, Spikes became famous for his sack dance, as well as Spikes TV and TKO TV. In 2010, Spikes led all linebackers in most attempted tackles per miss. Spikes missed four tackles over his three seasons with San Francisco.
Called Bamm Bamm and TKO, Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes were called the dynamic duo. Spikes said, "With Patrick I’ve always admired how great he wants to be at a young age. That’s how he gained my respect. He would always just hound me and ask me questions. He was the sponge and I was the bucket of water...that’s why our relationship is bigger than just on the field. He’s like a brother to me."
After being assured that he would be re-signed by head coach Mike Singletary, the 49ers fired Singletary and decided to go with rookie NaVorro Bowman as the starter, making Spikes a free agent once again.
Coincidentally, the 49ers also made the NFC Championship game the following season after Spikes departure. It ended an eight-year playoff drought for the franchise, and the team went to three straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl over the next three seasons.
On September 11, 2012, Spikes played his 200th career start earning him membership in a very elite group of linebackers to reach this achievement. On September 30, 2012, he forced Jamaal Charles to fumble when playing against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers later won the game 37-20. Spikes was released by the Chargers on March 7, 2013.
Spikes went unsigned during the 2013 season and retired thereafter.
He was named after Japan's 41st Prime Minister Takeo Miki after Spikes' parents saw a news report. Miki's successor, who was appointed the nation's 67th Prime Minister on December 24, 1976, a week after Takeo was born, was also a Takeo (Fukuda). Takeo's younger cousin Brandon Spikes is currently a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.
Spikes dedicated his entire career to his father shortly after he died. Spikes said, "My father was a good man. Really showed me the work ethic ... taught me to feel like you're not entitled to anything. If I can live my life just as he did, even three-quarters of the way he did, then I figure I'll have a pretty successful life."
Takeo Spikes is recognized and known for the size and strength of his neck. He's been called "the most jacked linebacker in the NFL".[attribution needed] Spikes himself measures his neck at 21 inches. At one point in his career he could bench 490 pounds. He was featured in ESPN The Magazine's "The Body Issue" in 2012 with a focus on his neck and trapezius.
Spikes provides mentoring at his annual TKO camp where he inspires young boys and girls to reach their goals. The mission of the camp is to help the participants bridge the gap of taking their goals from dreams to reality. The day-long event gives middle to high school age girls and boys an opportunity to participate in a basketball camp, football camp, and cheerleading camp with motivational speeches and Q&A with professional athletes. The annual event also includes a financial contribution to the local Washington County, GA athletic department.
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