Interesting stuff from Takeo Spikes on Matt Maiocco’s blog today. Before deciding to sign with the San Francisco 49ers, the 10-year vet (and if this story is any indication, an extremely intelligent player) wanted to talk not just to the defensive coaches, but the guy heading up the offense:
Spikes, whom the 49ers signed to a one-year, $1.68 million contract with the 49ers last week, said he fully trusts Martz to maximize the production on offense.
“I feel like we have what we need to win on that side of the ball,” said Spikes, a two-time Pro Bowl player and 10-year NFL veteran.
“I think Mike Martz feels that way too, because if you look at the other quarterbacks who were out there — Byron Leftwich or Daunte Culpepper – he had the opportunity to grab those guys but I’m pretty sure he was comfortable with what he had here with O’Sullivan and the other two quarterbacks. If he believes in them, there ain’t no question, I’m sold.”
I loved that Spikes mentioned “O’Sullivan and the other two quarterbacks.” Sure, Alex Smith and Shaun Hill have pretty ordinary names (not all special and linebackery like Takeo’s), but I don’t think it’s out of the realm that Smith and Hill’s names didn’t even come up when Spikes talked to Martz. It was also interesting that Spikes was openly wondering why the Niners didn’t pick up Leftwich or Culpepper (Doesn’t he know about the 49ers and their ban on black quarterbacks? I’m only halfway kidding).
I happened to have a Spikes’ phone tapped when he talked to Martz, so here’s a transcript of the conversation that convinced Spikes to come to San Francisco.
Martz (answering): Mike Martz.
Spikes: Hey coach, it’s Takeo Spikes. Coach Nolan really wants me to come to San Francisco and play with you. He even said something about me, him and Patrick Willis getting an apartment together. But I heard you guys are trying to start some guy named T.J. at QB. What the hell?
Martz: Mmmm … you are talking about one of my prized pupils, so you better be careful. Mister … ahem, I mean J.T. O’Sullivan is absolutely tremendous in his rightful role as the starting quarterback. You’ll love his demeanor — he’s extremely well trained and obedient.
Spikes: Is he the guy the Niners drafted first a few years ago?
Martz: No! John Thomas is a diamond in the rough, one that only the most astute coach could have the clairvoyance and foresight to find in the coal mines, if you will, of the UC Davis gridiron.
Spikes: Uh, OK … what was that top draft pick’s name again? Aaron Simms or something?
Martz: Takeo, do you have a father?
Martz: I’m like a father to John Thomas.
Spikes: Okay, go on…
Martz: John Thomas has incredible talent and intelligence, and an impeccable pedigree. If you like I can show you his papers, he has all the pertinent certifications. He is a little high maintenance sometimes, and needs his hair brushed and his teeth cleaned a little more than most players, but he has a very shiny coat and…
Spikes: A shiny what?
Martz: Oh, I mean a shiny helmet because he’s very smart. Listen Takeo, I took Kurt Warner and made him the bearded Christian superstar that we all know him as now. I see the same in John Thomas, and if I’m successful in convincing him to grow a beard like Kurt’s, he’s going to be very, very handsome. John Thomas is quite headstrong however (laughter), but that is one of the things I love about him.
Spikes: Whatever dude. The other team going after me is the Lions, so as long as you tell me the offense is in good hands, I’m coming out west. It’s not like the Patriots are calling or anything.
Martz: Detroit? When I left Detroit I took John Thomas with me. I promise you, when you meet my beloved pet … I mean quarterback … you will never forget it. There is no reason to go to Detroit.
Spikes: Alright, that’s good enough for me. I’ll see you in a couple days. And coach, coach Nolan isn’t actually going to want me to live with him, will he?
Martz: Oh Michael? No, no. He loves linebackers a little too much sometimes, but he’s really a sweetheart. Nobody listens to him around here anyway.