Spikes lives to play do-or-die

3:35 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes, who has three sacks, three interceptions, and three forced fumbles for the rampaging Buffalo defense, admits "the emotions are going to be wild, man," when he meets up with his ex-mates Sunday in Cincinnati.

"Two playoff teams," Spikes said. "It's damn do or die."

For the first time in a career that began here seven years ago, Spikes is playing a game in December with his team one game over .500 and a shot at the playoffs.

"No. 1, I've never been in a month of December this late, and having something to play for other than pride," Spikes told the Cincinnati media in Wednesday's conference call. "No. 2, this is where it all started; when I was greener than the grass and turf at Cincinnati. It kind of goes back to the first day I stepped up on the field."

Spikes lobbied then new head coach Marvin Lewis hard to get out of Cincinnati before the 2003 season and Lewis let him go when the Bengals decided not to match Buffalo's $32 million offer.

Why?

Lewis was looking to start fresh and didn't need a star linebacker who didn't want to be here. Spikes didn't think he was getting exposure in Cincinnati.

"If I had to take those days back, I wouldn't because I think not only as a player, but as a person it made me grow," Spikes said, "and it made me grow into the man that I am now. I have no regrets. I don't have any hard feelings. It's a business. As much as you hate to say it, it's a kid's game you have to play, (but) ultimately it's a business."

So Spikes turned agent for a minute and made a pitch for Bengals running back Rudi Johnson.

"He's doing real good, Rudi looks real good," Spikes said. "I would think by now he'd have a contract extension.

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