The Bills new linebacker Brandon Spikes spoke to reporters on Wednesday after the former Patriot signed a one-year deal with Buffalo last week.
Here's the full transcript of the conference call interview with the Buffalo media released by the team:
Q: Describe the process for you and how you arrived at your decision to sign with the Bills?
A: The whole process was great. I was excited the whole time to get going with a new start in a new beginning in a new place. It was all good, everything went well on the decision and I'm here.
Q: Why Buffalo?
A: Well for one, I get to reunite with the great Pepper Johnson, so I'm definitely happy about that. They're doing great things. I'm always down for a challenge and I've been in this conference and played against them for the past four years. There have been some great games and great battles and I always respected them and the whole organization. Obviously I had a cousin (Takeo Spikes) that played for them when I was younger so I grew up watching them for that part of his career. It's great, I feel like it's going to be fun and like I said, I'm down for a challenge. I want to help change the culture there.
Q: What do you think of Pepper Johnson and can you describe your relationship with him?
A: He's a great coach and a great inspiration to the game. He loves the game and he is definitely what I want to be down the road. He's a legendary ballplayer and coach. He just knows the game. I respect him as a man and as a coach.
Q: The Bills were 28th on defense against the run last year. Can you do something to help that?
A: Yeah, I actually saw there were like seven games where they gave up over 150 yards on the ground and I want to come and help them out. That's one of my strengths, against the run, and I feel like I can help. Whatever they need me to do I am willing to do and I will do it at a high level. Like I said, I'm excited for this challenge.
Q: Why did you decide to sign a one year deal? Does it mean you have something to prove?
A: Whatever it means, it is what it is. My whole life I've had something to prove so it just helps put some fuel on the fire. It keeps that burning sensation I have inside of me for the game and like I said whatever, if they say I have something to prove, I just have to go out there and do it. I'm definitely looking forward to this fall. It's going to be interesting and it's going to be a great season.
Q: What happened in New England in terms of your relationship with coaching staff and how your season ended?
A: Honestly we definitely know all about it and it's in the past. I just want to close that chapter. Like I said, I'm on to Buffalo. I'm just excited about the future.
Q: You tweeted "Free at last! Free at last!" I assume that was pointed towards New England and there was a lot written about not marching to the coaches drumbeat quite as much as they might have wanted. What do you think about that and do you foresee any problems in Buffalo?
A: Like I said, I just want to put that all behind. It just feels great to have a new beginning. Like I said, I'm excited about things. The past is the past and like I said I'm happy now and ready to get to work. I'm just ready to help and that's it. I want to be a part of a winning program and organization and I feel like this is the best place for me. It's a great fit, the coaches are great, and the scheme is great. We have a great team overall and a lot of good players. I'm just ready to get to work.
Q: What was your relationship with Takeo Spikes growing up?
A: The influence on me was definitely just that he inspired me to be great. He inspired me to have a dream and chase it. Seeing him make some big plays in college and went on to the NFL and had an awesome career. Watching him in Buffalo growing up inspired me to wear the number 51 playing in high school and college and stuff like that. He's just a great all-around American guy. He's a professional who handled his business on and off the field. He's just somebody I look to be like. As far as the relationship, it's actually funny because I didn't really know him. I figured he was my cousin because we used to be in North Carolina, where we had a lot of our family reunions in Georgia--where he's from. He had no idea. It was just his father and when his father passed he thought he was the only Spikes. He went back and graduated from high school and he heard I was getting recruited by Auburn and Florida and he touched base with me. Obviously he wanted me to go to Auburn, but that's how we actually started talking in my freshman year of college and we've been in touch ever since.
Q: Did you talk to him at all about Buffalo prior to coming up here?
A: Of course.
Q: What were his words of wisdom?
A: He just told me there is no other fan base like it. I love that about it, I love a place with a lot of tradition. I just remember being a little boy and watching Thurman Thomas and (Jim) Kelly. I just want to bring that back, it's been a long time and I want to bring that type of mentality and that mindset and toughness. That old school ball, that just relentless effort. The fans, I always appreciate them. From what I hear it reminds me of the old Florida Gators days. The fans there are such passionate fans and it definitely helped me play hard and with an edge. I appreciate that.
Q: What has the process been like so far interacting with Bills fans?
A: I always get a kick out of that. I use Twitter just to interact with my fans. I just look at it like I was in that situation with a celebrity or an athlete or just anybody that I looked at as a role model or that I loved, I wish get in contact with them in some type of way. That's all I use it for, to interact with fans. It feels great to be a part of the Bills Mafia because they have my back. They definitely have my back and it feels good to be a part of a family like that. It feels great.
Q: You mentioned scheme fit with Buffalo. Is it your understanding that you will be a middle linebacker in a 4-3 base defense?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I'll be in the middle and it reminds me of the defensive scheme I played all four years at Florida and I played at a high level and had a lot of success. I'm looking forward to it.
Q: How much does the scheme fit play into a players mind during free agency?
A: Well honestly for me personally it don't really matter what scheme I'm in. Whatever coach asks me to do I'm going to do and I'm going to do it at a high level. It's just that simple. I'm a professional football player and I've been playing the game since I was four. I get in where I can fit in. Whatever you need to do to put me on the field, I'm going to get it done at a high level. It's just that simple whatever the situation may be.
Q: We've seen you lay the wood on some Bills a few times; do you consider yourself an intimidator?
A: That's what people say, but I don't know any other way to play the game. I grew up playing aggressive and watching all the older guys that paved the way for us. Like I said, just all the old school throwback backers, I just molded my game after them and it just stuck with me this whole time. I really don't, I wouldn't call it intimidating, I'm just playing and going hard and relentless and play every play like it's your last. That's how I play every time.
Q: How much pride do you take in really defending the run?
A: I take a lot of pride in it because I feel like if you can stop a run you will make a team one dimensional. I know a lot of people are saying the league is pass now and it's pass, but as you can see in the playoffs everybody just starts running the ball unless you have a run stopper can take that away down in the playoffs late in the season when the weather becomes a factor and stuff like that. It's big and it seems like the last couple Super Bowl winners have had a great run game. I think that's key if you can make a team one dimension al and force them to pass, I feel like you have the edge. I really don't understand why people are saying that, but the game is still the same. If you control the clock with the run game you have a great chance of winning the game.
Q: Most big linebackers come off the field on third down passing situations. Two years ago you played 66% of the snaps. Talk about playing in some nickel packages or were you just in big nickel packages? How were you used in some of those nickel situations?
A: I was used in big nickel, nickel, whatever it was, it was third down. I played on it if they gave me the opportunity and I delivered when I was out there. Obviously we went to the Super Bowl and I had one of the best games on third downs even though we lost. That whole entire season when I was given the opportunity and play on third down, I delivered. You asked the question about the packages, I was in all of them on third down. I don't know what happened, but I guess I just couldn't cover out there for a few years. I don't know, that's what they said. Like I said, that's in the past and now I'm just here to change all that. Prove people wrong if that is what they'd like to say. I'm just ready to go play the game I love. Everybody don't have an opportunity to have their dream and play. I'm just happy to have this opportunity and be in this situation to play the game I love.
Q: What do you think makes the Bills attractive as team for you?
A: I just feel like honestly the last few years playing them I think they're a great team honestly. There's just something they're missing, it's weird. In a few games they had us up by 21 points and they let us comeback and win the game. It may be the small things like team chemistry; I don't know I haven't been around the guys. Like I said I'm looking forward to that. I just know playing against them and preparing for them I know they have some great ballplayers over there that can do a lot of great things. Great athletes and great professionals got a lot of playmakers over there.
Q: How will you feel in the two games next season against the Patriots and some of the guys you were pretty close to in New England?
A: It's going to be emotional for me. Right now I've had dreams about it already. It's going to be an emotional game; I'm probably going to be in tears the entire game. I know it's going to be a battle; it's definitely going to be a battle, at all times. I'm looking forward to that and I'll probably dream about it every night until it comes this fall.
Q: What about the guys you leave behind in the Patriots' linebacker room?
A: I definitely won't leave those guys behind. They will always be friends of mine. I spoke to them a few times already and I actually was just hanging out with Jamie Collins yesterday. They'll definitely be friends of mine forever. I'll be in contact and I'll never forget them. They have a great linebacker core with a lot of young guys. They'll definitely be fine over there and I'll be watching them play and being in contact with them.