Sean McDermott was talking about the consistency of his veteran leaders, Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander, on Friday when he brought up a former Bill who was on the last team that came this close to the playoffs.
"I was around another player years ago named Takeo Spikes who played here for a number of years," McDermott said. "He shared with me that he had never been to the position we're trying to get to this weekend."
Spikes, who played in the NFL from 1998-2012, appeared in 219 regular-season games without making it to the playoffs, which is the league record. The former Pro Bowl linebacker endured a personal drought that might be even worse than what Buffalo has experienced for the last 17 years. Spikes kept chasing the playoffs after leaving the Bills in 2006, but it barely eluded him every time.
In 2007, he played one season with the Eagles, where McDermott was a young assistant coach. Philly had made the playoffs the year before. They missed in '07, then went back the three years after Spikes left.
Spikes played with the Niners from 2008-10. They didn't get in. They made it in 2011, the year after he left for San Diego.
In San Diego, Spikes played on two non-playoff teams in 2011-12. You guessed it, the Chargers reached the playoffs in 2013, the year after he retired.
Spikes had his greatest year in 2004, the last year the Bills went into the final game of the regular season with a chance at the playoffs. He had five interceptions, two that he ran back for touchdowns, 18 passes defensed and four forced fumbles. He made first team all-Pro for the only time in his career. But he couldn't save the Bills from losing the '04 finale to the Steelers, 29-24.