Spikes: Winner who's a perpetual loser

  • 12/28/2009: B6:

    PC: Linebacker Takeo Spikes sacks Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton on the third play of the game but the 49er defense once again had trouble all day trying to pressure Stanton.

SANTA CLARA - Takeo Spikes cried after this season's loss to Carolina.

Last year's loss at Seattle not only killed the 49ers playoff chances, it momentarily killed his ebullient personality. No laughing. No joking. He was so devastated that he didn't talk to his teammates for four days.

Given Spikes' history — the man has never been to the playoffs after 12-plus seasons and 181 games — the tears and silence seem to make perfect sense.

After all, he long ago established himself as a premier NFL linebacker. He's made his millions. Now, with the clock ticking, all that drives the 33-year-old is an elusive trip to the playoffs.

Isn't that why the losses now hurt so much, he's asked.

Spikes frowns. His questioner doesn't know his history.

The losses don't hurt more now. They've always hurt like hell. He bawled after losses when he was a rookie in Cincinnati in 1998.

In his five seasons with the Bengals, they went 19-61, a level of incompetence that inspired offseason mocking from friends such as Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and Ravens running back Jamal Lewis back home in Atlanta. Spikes endured the jokes and clung to the praise.

"The compliment I got was &‘Y'all was (sorry) as hell, but you played you're a-- off,'" Spikes said. "I took it personal. I was like every time I step on the field I'm going to make sure you know — what you see in the big picture isn't what it is with me."

His teammates noticed. Before his second NFL season, he was named a team captain. He was 22.

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