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Spikes: It’s a personal deal
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Linebacker Takeo Spikes
Did you have a previous relationship with Boys and Girls Clubs in other cities?
“Yes, I had a previous relationship in the other cities that I played in. But for me, I felt like it was the best opportunity. As a youngster and as a kid, all you ever want is the best opportunity just to do something positive. A lot of times, for unfortunate reasons, a lot of kids don’t get that. So for me being in the position that I’m in, that’s the reason I was attracted to this.”
Did you ever benefit from the Boys and Girls Club?
“We never had it. I never had it where I grew up, so that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with it so much. I loved the concept of it. We had the neighborhood basketball park down the street and everybody would get together, so that was our Boys and Girls Club.”
Why are so many Chargers players focused on giving back to kids?
“I know that you’re saying Charger players, but I know that it really has to do with how you grew up. For me, I was walking around every day trying to get that knowledge and wondering how I could get to that level. I think that when you see other guys putting up the efforts that they do, Philip (Rivers), Shaun (Phillips), Jam (Quentin Jammer), we all benefited from it somehow or we wished that we could have been a part of it. We make it a conscious effort on our mind that when we finally did make it or while we’re still making it, we still have a chance to impact lives. And I think that’s the reason why you see a majority do that.”
Who do you think gets more out of it, you or the kids?
“We do. They benefit from it at the point, but I think that as they get older, they’ll feel the same way we feel because we feel that just to give them the opportunity, to me is priceless. It’s priceless because where I come from, you have guys where I go back to the hood and talk to them now. The first thing they’ll tell you is that they wish they had the same opportunities I had. That’s the number one thing they’ll tell you. It turns into a copout, but then you see the ones who really wanted to be a part of something special, but they just didn’t have the resources available to do it.”
Can you explain a little more about what you meant last week in the conversation that went viral last week about the lottery ticket?
“I’ve been playing for a long time and at the end of the year you always go back and say ‘if’. And I tell guys that I don’t like to be part of an ‘if’ conversation because I’ve never heard, or I’ve never had a bad ‘if’ conversation. Case in point is ‘if’ we had won just two more games, or ‘if’ this guy would have made that play. Personally, I don’t care to hear about that because in the beginning we all knew what we signed up for. So you never had the opportunity to go back and say ‘if’. ‘If’ can be anything that you want it to be. It’s a waste.”
Despite you not being 100 percent, are you going to play on Sunday?
“Who’s 100 percent? My point is that no one is 100 percent. I’ve never played a season--even my Pro Bowl season--at 100 percent. Everyone is banged up. If I can’t play, I won’t play. I’m not trying to go out and get a Purple Heart or anything. I can play this game and that’s my plan.”
With the Pro Bowl players being announced, how hard is it for a player to get noticed when the team is having difficulties?
“It’s hard. It’s very hard. I’ve talked to a lot of the younger guys about that, the ones who I really felt like they deserved some Pro Bowl recognition. I suffered through that at least eight years out of my career to where I was always told I was the first team alternate going into my second year in the league, when I was in Cincinnati. It’s tough, but you just have to understand that’s the way it goes. It’s sad to say, but that’s the political part of it. Somebody has to play the game. You don’t have to play it, but the faster that you win as a team, it’s easier at the national level for everyone to see what you do versus everyone hearing about what you do.”
What makes the Chargers-Raiders rivalry so strong?
“It’s personal. It’s one thing to hear about it, but to actually see it and play in the games last year. Last year, I remember that it felt like we were in Oakland when we came out of the tunnel. That’s when it really hit home for me. Hopefully it won’t be like that this week, hint: I’m talking to all the Chargers fans. It’s a personal deal.”
Is there more energy with this team on the road than at home?
“I guess you would just have to take a poll and ask them. I personally like playing on the road. The reason why is because I like to play the game with an edge. I like to play the game with people trash-talking because that gets me going and it gets me hot. So that’s the reason I like to play on the road. Nobody likes you. I was always told that if you’re doing something and everyone likes you while you’re doing it, you’re doing something wrong. From that standpoint, that’s why I like playing on the road. We just didn’t play good at home. That’s the reason. We went on the road and laid some eggs on the road too. I wouldn’t put too much real estate in that. I definitely wouldn’t take it to Vegas.”
How do you feel about this being the last week of the season?
“I thought about it a little earlier. It really doesn’t touch me until I walk into the locker room on Sunday. That’s when it hits home with me. I know that it’s coming, but I choose not to address it. I feel a bunch of emotions. It’s reality. This will be the last time that this team will take the field together and you don’t learn to appreciate that until you go through something, until you actually go through something where maybe you have to leave that team or one of your best friends has to leave that team. You realize that the team is only constructed and put together for a certain time window to get the job done. And as a younger player you never understand that, because it’s all about you and you’re trying to learn what you have to do first. That’s when it hits home.”
What’s it been like playing for Norv Turner?
“It’s been a joy. To me, he and Dick Lebeau have a lot of similarities with each other as far as drawing up great game plans and mannerisms that are the same. They do, but they never have to raise their voices to get to you. I think that whenever you can find an adult that’s able to speak to another adult like that in that type of way and still get through mentally, that’s where you see the utmost respect that you have for your peer or the man who you’re working for.”
Have you developed any relationships with young people while working with the Boys and Girls Clubs that went beyond just meeting them at the club one time?
“In the past I have. I have some to this day hit me on Twitter. It’s surprising to see that they were little and now they’re in college playing basketball or football. That’s special.”
What do you think has clicked for the San Francisco 49’ers the last few years?
“I could give you my opinion like everyone else with the best of them. Just from the outside looking in, what they’re doing up in San Fran is the vision that coach Mike Singletary for us. It’s the same roster, a majority anyway. In particular, talking about last year. But I think that, bottom line, you really have to give a lot of the credit to Jim Harbaugh. He was able to come in and get Alex (Smith) to not only play at a level where most people like to say ‘just don’t lose it’, but he played at a high level and didn’t’ turn the ball over. He was able to convert on third downs. Even when I was there, we always played good defense. But when it’s that much better on the offensive side of the ball, then everything is better.” Read