Spikes lured by Jennings

They're not scouts, coaches, owners or general managers, but Takeo Spikes and Jonas Jennings have spent time recruiting one another during their relatively short football careers. Today, Spikes, 26, was officially welcomed as a Buffalo Bill.

Call it Jennings 1, Spikes 0.

The two native Georgians have known each other for about seven years and their off-season homes are about 20 minutes apart in Atlanta. When he was at Auburn, Spikes, from Sandersville, Ga., used to write letters to Jennings asking him to play football for the Tigers. But Jennings, from College Park, Ga., wanted to stay in his home state and attend University of Georgia.

"He probably didn't know who he was writing," said Jennings, who's a year younger than Spikes. "Any time you got a guy from Georgia, they try to use people from the same state to help lure the guy to the school."

It didn't work.

But Jennings' efforts to recruit Spikes to the Bills sure did.

The visit to Buffalo was Spike's first and last as a transition free agent. Spikes was so pumped about seeing how another NFL franchise operated just a week ago – one other than the Bengals – he could hardly contain his excitement. He had a disposable camera on hand to record his memories, in case he never got out of Cincinnati. He even had his picture taken with the media ... and most NFL players would have viewed that as a waste of perfectly good film.

Not Spikes.

He embraced Buffalo like a good snowstorm. He's just another signal that Buffalo is the NFL's new buzz. Players want to come because they think the team is going to win this season.

"People look at it and they have no problem going here," said Jennings. "It used to be excuses, ‘Oh, man, you can't go to cold Buffalo, you can't do this.' But that's nothing they're worrying about anymore. They're looking at something that's about to pop off. I'm pretty sure there are plenty more places that would have taken Takeo Spikes, but he wasn't worrying about the eight feet of snow. That's one thing I didn't tell him about."

Well, what's a little snow when something is "about to pop off?" The Bills are a hot commodity. That could melt eight feet of snow alone.

Of course, if Spikes can't get out of his garage some morning next winter – or even this winter – it won't matter. He's so happy for a new start, he'll just fly over to One Bills Drive using his enthusiasm.

He's been appreciative of western New York's hospitality through the short time he's been here, mentioning that everybody seems to recognize him and wish him luck. He said the baggage handlers at the Buffalo airport were happy to see him too. The cynic would say they just wanted a piece of his $9 million signing bonus for a tip. But I have to believe they're genuinely happy he's here.

Everyone is, except for maybe Eddie Robinson.

When Spikes visited Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo this afternoon, he got out of the car and a construction worker gave him his hard hat, as if to say, "Hey, you'll be needing this if you're going to play here and you intend to play hard."

That won't be a problem.

"When I walk away from the game, I want somebody to say, ‘Takeo Spikes, he did everything possible that he could do to be the best player that he wanted to be,'" Spikes said. "I want to be looked at as a guy who will do whatever it takes to win – a total team player.

"I have my personal goals, but I know my personal goals will never be accomplished without thinking of a team concept. That's why I've learned as a player, you never reach your full potential unless you have other great players around you. Here, I see that happening."

For good measure, he added, "I would be really disappointed, if we didn't make a serious run at the Super Bowl … I don't think it will be any pressure on all the guys here. Just talking to some of the guys in passing, we want to win. I know I said last week, ‘I want to smell the playoffs.' Let me correct that. I still want to smell the playoffs, but I want to bite the Super Bowl. Everybody's talking about Super Bowl. Everybody's talking about it. There should be no reason why we shouldn't make a run for the Super Bowl."

Sounds like Jennings recruited a heckuva guy.


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