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Coach McKissic and Takeo Spikes

April 16, 2012
By Anthony McKissic Sr. of The Gold Print

Takeo Gerard Spikes (pronounced /təˈkiːoʊ/; born December 17, 1976) is an American football linebacker for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals 13th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at Auburn.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro selection, Spikes has also played for the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers, and currently San Diego Chargers.

Early years

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.

College career

Takeo entered Auburn, majoring in liberal arts. In the 1997 campaign, he led Auburn with 136 tackles as Auburn advanced to the SEC Championship. Spikes was college teammates with productive tailback Stephen Davis.

Professional career

 Cincinnati Bengals

Spikes entered the 1998 NFL Draft and was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals. In his rookie season he started all the preseason games and all the 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 that 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.

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 (Jimmie) death.

2002 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 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.

 Buffalo Bills

2003 was the first season Spikes played with the Bills, earning his first Pro Bowl appearance and started all 16 games once more. 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.

Philadelphia Eagles

Spikes in 2007.

Spikes, not wanting to be part of a Bills youth movement, asked for a trade to a contender. On March 26, 2007, he was traded as part of a multi-player deal to the Philadelphia Eagles. The deal sent Spikes and Kelly Holcomb to the Eagles for Darwin Walker and a 2008 draft pick.[1]

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. He was released by the Eagles on March 6, 2008.

San Francisco 49ers

On August 10, 2008, Spikes was signed by the San Francisco 49ers on the same day they released linebacker Brandon Moore.[2] 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 resigned to a 2 year contract. He was injured on November 1, 2009.

San Diego Chargers

Spikes signed with a three-year contract with the San Diego Chargers on July 26, 2011.[3]


According to Spikes, his nickname TKO stands for "The Knock Out". Spikes and singer Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins have been dating for over three years.[4] Several of Spikes' jerseys from the early days of his career are preserved in glass at the Dairy Lane restaurant in Sandersville. Spikes boasts a 22 inch neck, which he claims is mostly due to his genetics.

He was named after Japan's 66th Prime Minister Takeo Miki after Spikes' parents saw a news report.[5] Miki's successor, who was appointed the nation's 67th Prime Minister on December 24, 1976 a week after Takeo was born, was also Takeo (Fukuda).[6] Takeo's younger cousin Brandon Spikes plays football for the New England Patriots.[7]

Spikes has the distinction of playing the most regular season games without a playoff appearance, which reached 200 by December 18, 2011.[8]

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