Takeo Spikes: “This Is My Super Bowl”

Chargers linebacker wants Raiders to know his disappointment

Fourteen seasons. More than 200 starts. Two Pro Bowls. Two All-Pro selections.

And the number zero.

In the royal court of befuddling statistics, sitting on the golden throne, Chargers inside linebacker Takeo Spikes saw his number of career playoff appearances stay static at zero Saturday when the Chargers were eliminated from postseason contention.

In the locker room afterward, the loss to the Detroit Lions stung.

For Spikes, when put into context, it was unspeakable.

He cut short a post-game interview with reporters once asked about the string of personal shortcomings, and a few days later, leading up to the season's final game against the Oakland Raiders, his willingness had, understandably, not changed.

"I'd rather not talk about it," Spikes said. "To me, it is what it is. People write what they want to write, whether it's good, bad or indifferent. I know it's not (a reflection of how I've played), but it is what it is. You can't change it. The only thing I know of what accomplishment means is I bust my (tail). This week, this is my Super Bowl. That's how I'm going to look at it. That's all I got."

Spikes, 35, signed a three-year contract in July, aiming to end the dry spell after narrowly falling short during three seasons in San Francisco.

He has "every intention" of returning to the Chargers next year but says such matters are at the will of team management, who will determine whether he is an asset or liability.

Certainly, coach Norv Turner would choose option A.

Alongside linebacker Donald Butler, a second-year player who missed all of last season to injury, Spikes has played 876 defensive snaps, second on the team only to Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle.

"He started this year, like all of us, with great expectations," Turner said. "I don't think he was planning on being a guy who was on the field for every down. When we presented this thing to him, it was as a first- and second-down linebacker ... He's played way too much, but he's never complained, and he's responded extremely well to it.

"You're fortunate to be around players like him. He's really a special person."

From the walk up the Ford Field tunnel to the long flight home to San Diego, teammates, between their own disappointment, felt for Spikes.

Chargers outside linebacker Shaun Phillips replayed in his mind early conversations between the two.

He considers Spikes the ultimate professional, someone who's inspired him to better conduct himself as a player, leader and role model.

"I promised I'd get him to the playoffs this year, and I let him down," said Phillips, sidelined four games during a six-game losing streak to a foot injury. "I take full responsibility because it's up to me to play 16 games, and when I don't play 16 games, the team suffers.

"It's one of those things I'm going to think about this offseason, that I really have got to bust my ass to make sure I get him to the playoffs if I'm here next year and he's here next year, or however you make it. That's one of my big motivations this offseason."

In the off months, Spikes will be thinking about the playoffs, too.

How close he came again. How he must recover his body. How he must fuel it for another run.

Even now, when eliminated, the playoffs are still on his mind.

The Chargers can end the Raiders' chances of contention with a Sunday win, and be it against a division rival or not, Spikes relishes the role of spoiler.

"Hell yeah," Spikes said. "It means a lot to me. Don't matter who it is. Misery loves company. If I'm going to be miserable in the offseason, I expect to have some company right there with me."

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