Early years and college career
Takeo Gerard Spikes was born December 17, 1976 in Augusta, Georgia. Spikes played his high school football at Washington County High School in Sandersville, Georgia. There he earned All-American honors from Parade and USA Today, and was named “Mr. Football” in the state of Georgia. Spikes went on to be named Georgia Player of the Year as a senior.
After High School, Spikes went played at the collegiate level at the University of Auburn. While playing at Auburn, he had major impact on the team. 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 in the 1997 season. In that loss Spikes was named the MVP for his performance. Spikes finished his collegiate career with 1,423 tackles, 17 fumble recoveries, 19 interceptions and 4 defensive touchdowns.
Takeo Spikes was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals 13th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. In his rookie season Spikes started in every game and became the first Bengals rookie to lead the team in tackles since James Francis. He also led the team in total snaps played, at a total of 997. Spikes was named team captain in 1999. In that season he forced four fumbles, and led the team in fumble recoveries with 4. He would go on to lead the team in fumble recoveries in 2000, as well.
In 2001, Spikes missed the fifth game of the season 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.
The Buffalo Bills signed Spikes for $32 million over six years. 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. In 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 four games early in the season due to a hamstring injury.
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.
San Francisco 49ers
On August 10, 2008, Spikes was signed by the San Francisco 49ers. He would go on to be re-signed to a two-year contract in 2009. Spikes recorded one sack and three interceptions in the 2008 season. In 2009, Spikes recorded four sacks and missed one game due to an injury. 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.
San Diego Chargers
In 2011 Spikes signed a three-year contract with the San Diego Chargers. Spikes was team captain both seasons with San Diego. Spikes was released by the Chargers on March 7, 2013. He Went went unsigned during the 2013 season and retired thereafter. Takeo finished his NFL career with 1,010 tackles, 29 sacks, 15 forced fumbles and 17 Fumble recoveries. He also recorded 19 interceptions and three defensive touchdowns in his 15-year career.
Life beyond football
Spikes has stayed busy in his free time since wrapping up his career. Since calling it quits, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Miami Business School in 2016. Furthermore, he 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 annual event also includes a financial contribution to the local Washington County, GA athletic department.
Takeo also wrote a book “Takeo Spikes Presents: Behind The Mask” in 2017. The book goes inside the minds of 12 of the NFL’s all-time best linebackers, with unique and intimate images and original, never-before-published content. Adding to the list, Spikes has been an analyst for NFL and college, a radio host for Sirius XM NFL and pursued his love for photography.
Spikes has been nominated to the NFL Hall of Fame the past three years, but has not been selected at the time of this article. He has also been inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
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