He only played four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, but Takeo Spikes isn't a name that was soon forgotten in Western New York. The linebacker left a memorable mark on the fans with his signature energy, and unsurprisingly, that sentiment is mutual.
"A piece of my heart will always be in Buffalo, mainly because of the way that I arrived in Buffalo," said Spikes on the John Murphy Show. "I was recruited by the fans and from that aspect I look at the fans in Buffalo as a democratic fan base. It's all about the people."
Spikes – who once called Buffalo the best football city he played in – is excited to be back in town for the first time since his playing days to serve as the Leader of the Charge at Sunday's game.
He's so excited, in fact, that when he sees his cousin and current Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes on the field pregame, he might negotiate a switcheroo.
"Brandon wears the visor. So maybe I can get one or two more plays in if I can put the visor on, keep the same jersey and go out there and steal a few plays," said Takeo, laughing. "Yeah, he would let me. He doesn't have a choice. I'm his older cousin. I don't want all the plays, just a few. I can't last that long. I could handle a couple."
Considering that Takeo played a role in solidifying his cousin's decision to carry on the family legacy and play for the Bills this season at linebacker wearing number 51, that swap might only be fair. After all, Takeo still associates with the team and says 'we' when referring to the Bills despite having played on five teams during his 15-year playing career.
All kidding aside, Takeo has carved out a solid career in broadcasting in the two years since his retirement from the NFL. He is an analyst for Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network, airing 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, and is a host of a preview show each Saturday night at 7 p.m. on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
"I love it because it's a way for me to stay a part of the game but away from the game at the same time," he said. "I would like to think my insight is a little different than everybody else's, having played 15 years and understanding the little nuances of the game and having a good pulse about what's going on at certain times and how it happened. I really like that part of it."
Though he might be out of the game, he's still well connected. Takeo met Terry and Kim Pegula two years ago, well before they were owners of the Bills, and their bond resulted in an ice cream delivery to Takeo's house.
"(Kim) knows my favorite dessert is ice cream," he said. "So she set it up and had me all taken care of with the ice cream. It just goes to show you – I'm not even playing for Buffalo and she bought me ice cream! So that's big man, great family."
Aside from the well-received delivery of Penn State–themed ice cream, Takeo had nothing but praise for the team's new owners.
"They're in good hands," he said. "It's about the legacy that Ralph Wilson left behind as far as having an owner to come in behind him who cares about the people in Western New York. You could not have a better owner than the Pegulas. They're very sincere and everything that I got from them, it was great."
Look for Takeo Leading the Charge atop the tunnel as the Bills run onto the field this Sunday before taking on the Minnesota Vikings in front of a sellout crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium.