Former Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes avoided doing interviews for much of his career as a student-athlete with the University of Florida. Now a professional football player and member of the New England Patriots, the luxury of avoidance he experienced in Gainesville, FL, is no longer available.
Spikes opened up to the media Friday about a number of topics including the flack he received for his 5.05 40-yard dash, his excitement about being with one of the best franchises in the NFL, the criticism he faced over eye gouge-gate during the 2009 season and his comfort level in his new surroundings with fellow former Gators defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and tight end Aaron Hernandez by his side.
“I’ve got a little saying: It is what it is, but it ain’t what you think,” Spikes told reporters at Gillette Stadium. “That’s what happened. I feel like everything happens for a reason. I’m blessed to be here. Fortunately, the opportunity’s right here. I’ve just got to seize the moment. So I’m happy to be here. Great players, great organization, great teammates and winning tradition: That’s what I’m all about.”
His character and leadership shone through when he discussed his self-suspension after the Florida-Georgia game.
“I feel like a man, if you do something you should know your consequences,” he said. “I did it. I got caught, and I suspended myself. The reason I did that was I know little kids watch the game and when I was little, I watched linebackers [and] I tried to mold my game and I didn’t want little kids to think that’s how the game should be played. Emotion, big rivalry game, and it just happened. We were taking shots at each other. I did it. I got punished for it, and you move on from your mistakes.”
Spikes is hoping to earn a starting job on the inside in the Patriot’s 3-4 scheme alongside his former Southeastern Conference foe – Tennessee’s Jerod Mayo. He plans to hold this role while wearing his new number, 55, which was previously worn by both Willie McGinest and Junior Seau. No. 51 – his number with the Gators that is also worn by his cousin Takeo Spikes with San Francisco – belongs to Mayo.
“A lot of great linebackers wore [No. 55] and I just want to keep that tradition going, follow after those guys, and keep that legacy going,” Spikes said. “Big shoes; I like that. High expectations; that’s part of my game. I like the pressure.”
Though his number has changed, Spikes has been able to bring two pieces of Gainesville with him to Foxborough, MA.
“Fortunately [Cunningham and Hernandez] lived with me for a year and a half at Florida, so to see those guys, it felt like home again,” he said. “I’ve just been embracing those guys, putting a smile on my face and trying to get better.”
Photo Credit: David Silverman/New England Patriots