Dec 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Takeo Spikes (51) runs out of the smoke during pregame introduction before a game against the Carolina Panthers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
There is nothing more that can be said about Takeo Spikes and what he did for the San Diego franchise after only two years. He was an immediate starter and leader, he was the voice of the defense and mentored the up and coming Donald Butler at inside linebacker. Having Spikes on our team was a luxury which will be difficult to replace. Spikes played 15 seasons across five teams in the NFL, a difficult feat especially for a linebacker. In those 15 years, Spikes never once played in a playoff game. Only once, in 2004 was he ever on a team with a winning record at 9-7 (with Buffalo) and three separate times would he help his team finish at 8-8 in 2007 (Eagles), 2009 (49ers) and 2011 (Chargers). With the unusual odds of never making it to the playoffs over a stretch of five teams it begs the question. Could there be a Spikes curse?
Cincinnati Bengals1998 – 2002
Buffalo Bills2003 – 2006
San Francisco 49ers2008 – 2010
San Diego Chargers2011 – 2012
First, the Cincinnati Bengals, upon Spikes being drafted the Bengals had not gone to the playoffs since 1990. Spikes was the 13th overall pick in the 1998 draft and played for the Bengals until 2002. The Bengals would continue to flounder only winning a total of 19 games in that five year span. After Spikes departed, the Bengals would go two back to back seasons at 8-8 before capturing the AFC North division title and securing a spot into the playoffs.
The Buffalo Bills era, although the team has yet to return to the playoffs after the departure of Spikes, there is one difference that sets aside the Bills from the other four teams Spikes played for. Spikes was selected to the Pro-Bowl twice and a 1x All-Pro only during his tenure with the Bills. Spikes would never get back to the pro-bowl or be selected on the all-pro team ever again with any other team. Perhaps his personal accolades is the only thing that prevents the curse from being broken? Who knows, maybe the Bills just can’t win in general!
Spikes would only play for the Eagles one season (2007) but prior to his arrival, the Eagles made the playoffs six out seven years and five of those trips were to the NFC Championship game. After Spikes left the team, the Eagle again would make the playoff three more years.
The San Francisco 49ers had been in a playoff drought since 2002 and would not return to not only the playoffs but to back to back NFC Championship games after the departure of Spikes. For the second team in a row Spikes would miss the playoffs one season to short.
Since arriving in San Diego, Spikes gave us hope and excitement in the middle of the defense and in return we gave him consistency of disappointment. If there is a Spikes curse and now that Spikes is gone shouldn’t we be released from the curse? With the theme of the Eagles “Home Opener” and the Spikes departure, is the universe telling us something? Maybe I shouldn’t think so deeply into this, but football is sounding so good these days! Love you Spikes, but in order for us to win a Superbowl we need to get into the playoffs first!!