Mental game sets Spikes apart

Takeo Spikes is so far enjoying himself and his new Bills teammates. It's easy to tell that the team's seriousness about winning a Super Bowl heading into 2003 greatly appeals to him. Spikes sat down with Mike Doser in this Shout! exclusive.



Mike Doser: Jonas Jennings is a good friend of yours, and I know that he was one reason you looked at the Bills organization. Was he the most instrumental person in getting you to come to Buffalo?

Takeo Spikes: The most instrumental person who had the most influence on me in getting to Buffalo was probably Benjamin Franklin. He's got a whole lot of brothers who come (because) of him [laughs] … Nah, I wouldn't say there was one person or any one thing. I would not have gone anywhere else because of money, if it was a losing situation. I wouldn't even care about the money. If I (had) to take a pay cut to get out of Cincinnati, I would have done that.

Doser: Did you ever worry what the psychological impact of all that losing as a Bengal might have done to your mindset, or might have changed you as a player? For instance, a player might be great on a losing team because game pressure is minimal when there's nothing to play for. When the pressure is heightened, he might not play as well for fear of making a mistake that might cost his team a win. So he's tentative.

Spikes: (Losing) wears on you. It wears on you. I didn't believe that, but me coming from there to here, looking back, I can see little certain things …

I know I'm blessed with a lot of God-given athletic ability. By my thing is I try to get to the next level by my mental approach. Every time I leave here and I get to doing some things, especially in the spring, I always go back over everything and just glance at the play calls. I write down everything on paper. [I do that] when I'm at my house, or on the plane [coming back to the team]. I try to find out what everybody is doing so I know what's going on around me, so I pretty much know what the defense is doing (before the snap).

I remember my first three years in Cincinnati I was doing that, but then that started to fade off. By the fifth year it was just like, "I'm going to do it in a minute," or, "I'm going to do it," but it never gets done.

I'd go over my own plays, the regular call sheet, and whatever the front call or the coverage call is, I just draw it up, and [study] what every person is doing and what his responsibility is.

Another thing I would do is go back and get all the game tapes and play them and take notes. Every game. Everything I knew I did wrong, I'd ask myself, "Why did I do that?" At the end of that 16-game breakdown, I'd go back and look at the mistakes I made the most, I'd write down on the note sheet all the mistakes that I made. So when I go into training camp, I'd laminate it, and stick it in my locker. So every day when I see it, I know what I needed to work on because it was exactly right there. So I'd try to nip all that in the bud before the regular season and I'd feel like I'm 100 percent on everything. You can't throw anything at me that I don't know.

Doser: That's really interesting. I talked to Pierson Prioleau earlier this off-season and he mentioned that he studied all his game tapes from the previous year and wrote down all the things he could improve on. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of people can probably apply that technique, that exhaustive self-analysis, to anything they do, and that would probably make them more successful.

Spikes: Right, you have to, if you want to be great at anything. Even (sports writers). You have to (do the self-analysis) away from your job. You've got to take it home with you if you want to be great. So that's what I do.


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