Takeo Spikes is the greatest living human being on the planet. Yeah. That's about all I have to say on the matter. So on to my next player prof--.. oh? You wanted more? Fine. I'll give you more. Seriously though, in my opinion, Takeo Spikes may just be the best TED linebacker in the league. He doesn't make every play, but he does exactly what the coaches ask of him, and he does it very well. He is the perfect compliment to Patrick Willis and I hope he sticks around for a couple of years, maybe for another one year contract after the 2010 season.. provided he doesn't seriously decline.
Spikes was highly successful in high school (he had wanted to play since he was 8-years old) and earned All-American honors from multiple sources. He was highly sought after and heavily recruited going into college and ended up going with Auburn University. Jump for more info.
Spikes was productive in college. At the time, it was a college known for producing offensive playmakers, but Spikes has always been a fan of the defense because it truly meant he could go out there and "hit people and not get in trouble", which I think is the perfect mentality for a linebacker. In his senior season, he led the team in tackles with 136 and earned All-American honors. In one game against LSU, Spikes recorded 18 tackles, picked off a pass AND blocked a kick. This guy was great.
He ended up being drafted by the Cincinatti Bengals, was an early captain on their team and frequently led the team in tackles. He finished his second season with four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, three sacks and two interceptions. His play never dropped, he continued to lead the team in tackles, getting at least 100 tackles each year. Anybody who looks at Patrick Willis and wonders why his numbers went down: it's because Spikes is there now.
Spikes' dad passed away in 2001, and it didn't slow his play one bit. Takeo went on to have one of his better seasons and followed it up with yet another very solid campaign in 2002, his final year with the team. He would end up going to the Buffalo Bills, after Bills fans buttered him up in the last game in 2002 when the Bengals went there to play. No, seriously. Fans wore Bills jerseys with Takeo's name on them. They applauded him. Surreal kind of stuff. But it worked.
His first two seasons with the team earned him pro bowl honors. He was a beast, and played well. He continued to play well for a few seasons and ultimately tore his achilles tendon and was promptly traded to the Eagles in 2007. There he had a good season, posting 86 tackles in 14 games, but was again, released from the team.
So then our 49ers signed him and the rest is history. He hasn't quite made the pro bowl since being here but in my opinion he's been fantastic. He plays like he's fully recovered, and the only times he misses anything is generally in practice, but he's awarded those breaks by the coaching staff because there's not a whole lot about his craft that needs refining. The guy can tackle. The guy can read, and adjust. He can play coverage, and he can get after the quarterback.
Singletary really liked Spikes a lot (and Spikes liked Singletary a lot--he was a Bears fan growing up), and loved the fact that he could mentor Patrick Willis. Would Willis be the best linebacker in the league without Takeo Spikes? Yeah, I think he would, but I think he's even better with his help.
Off the field, Takeo Spikes is the host of TKO TV, which you definitely need to check out. He wants to be an analyst when he retires, which is a shame because I think he'd be a great position coach and maybe even a defensive coordinator some day, but then again it's not a shame because the guy is very smart and very good on-camera.
Takeo Spikes... whose name means "Great Warrior" is definitely that. He's easily my favorite 49er right now, and I hope to buy his jersey when I have the funds to do so. My most recent was a Jeff Ulbrich jersey. Spikes is next. Maybe I just have a thing for TED linebackers? Who knows?