Takeo Spikes proud of his cousin Brandon


Takeo Spikes proud of his cousin Brandon

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO The conversations don't last long, and aren't that frequent.

But there's no mistaking San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes is proud of his cousin, New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes.

"He's a good football player," Takeo Spikes said. "He's a good football player for their system, and what they have."

The numbers certainly bear this out.

As a rookie last season, Brandon racked up 61 tackles in 12 games with eight starts after an illustrious career at Florida in which he was a two-time All-American and was part of two (2007 and 2009) national championship teams. However, a horrible 40-yard dash time - he clocked in at 5.06 seconds - saw his stock plummet into the second round of the draft.

While he was slowed by injuries during the preseason, Brandon is gradually working his way back into resuming his spot as a starting inside linebacker - the same position his cousin Takeo plays - in New England's 3-4 defense. In Sunday's 35-21 win over San Diego, Brandon had two tackles while his cousin Takeo racked up seven.

Takeo, who grew up in Georgia, said he didn't learn that they were cousins until a few years ago.

"I always knew I had family in that area (North Carolina), but I never knew (who)," said Takeo, 34. "I just did a little research and found out."

What he discovered was a young, hard-hitting linebacker whose aspirations - to play in the NFL - were no different than his when he was that age.

Leading up to the 2010 NFL draft, Takeo was hoping his team at the time, San Francisco, would use one of their early draft picks - the 49ers had three in the first two rounds that year - to select his cousin.

Instead, San Francisco used its first-round picks on a pair of offensive linemen, and used its second-round pick, 49th overall, to draft Southern Cal free safety Taylor Mays.

Thirteen picks later, Brandon Spikes was a Patriot.

Takeo sees a tremendous amount of talent, growth and potential in Brandon, an assessment he says he would have come to regardless of them having the same bloodline.

"He has a natural knack for the ball," Takeo said. "A lot of people not blessed with (his) instincts. He plays aggressive. Good athlete. Those intangibles alone his pedigree, where he came from. He won a lot of football games at Florida. Not only was he part of it; he was an integral part of it. He was one of the leaders."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”