Former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his book, “Behind the Mask,” which chronicles the best linebackers in NFL history, including Chuck Bednarik, Bobby Bell, Derrick Brooks, Harry Carson, London Fletcher, Ted Hendricks, Rickey Jackson, Willie Lanier and Mike Singletary.
“It’s my labor of love,” Spikes said on Gio and Jones. “It’s a coffee-table book with a compilation of some of the greatest linebackers that played the game. Each guy is sharing their story on how they became great, what made them an outlier. For me, having the opportunity to spend time in their homes, the one thing that really stood out was that they had a defining moment when they were growing up and they decided to make a commitment at that time.”
Carson, for example, grew up in Florence, South Carolina, during the Civil Rights era.
“He used that as motivation to be able to change his environment, to be able to change his thought process, to be able just to get out and have an opportunity to give back to the citizens of Florence,” Spikes explained.
Spikes, 40, played 15 seasons in the NFL and made two Pro Bowls. But writing this book is easily one of his greatest accomplishments.
“I think the photography and the writing, me being able to sit down and talk with those guys, take their story from my audio perspective and then be able to put it in print (was enjoyable),” he said. “I knew I liked to write, I knew I could write, but when I was taking my classes at the University of Miami for my MBA, we had this class called Critical Writing and Thinking, and we had to write a paper on the fist day.”
Spikes’ professor loved his paper. In fact, the professor showed it off to the class as an exemplary writing sample.
“I (was) about to get up and do the happy dance,” Spikes said, laughing. “But I kept my cool. When I left the classroom, he knew about my project and what I was working on.”
The professor asked Spikes if he was going to write the book himself. Spikes said no.
The professor didn’t understand.
“He was like, ‘Why? If you can do this, I know you can do that – and that’s talking about something that you love,’” Spikes recalled.
Spikes decided to write the book himself and hired a copyeditor.
“That’s the enjoyment that I got out of the book, to be able to see it done,” Spikes said. “I like to make this analogy: Some people like to hold a grenade, and some people like to pull the pin. I’m going to pull the pin. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it – and I want you to bank it. A lot of people always talk about doing things. Hey, I want to write a book.’ There was plenty of times (when) I was like, ‘Man, why did I decide to write this book?’ Because it was frustrating trying to get in contact (with people), trying to get everybody’s schedules. But to see the finished product, it’s a work of art with the photography, with the writing, how it’s all put together, how it flows. Even the cover, I was struggling to (figure out) what the cover (would be), and then when Mr. Chuck Bednarik passed, it was easy. This is my time to give tribute to him. It wasn’t a right that he gave me to come in and interview him. It was a privilege and an honor, and I appreciate that.”