During the course of his 15-year NFL career, former Eagles linebacker Takeo Spikes stood before notepads, tape recorders and cameras and answered a countless number of questions. Now on the other side of the podium, he's the one asking them.
A documentary about Spikes' new gridiron venture can be seen on Tuesday at 8:30 PM on "NFL Films Presents" on Fox Sports 1.
The two-time All-Pro became interested in photography after he retired from the game, but decided to take it a step or two further than taking snapshots of family and friends.
"Everyone is a photographer, but I just believe in going all in," said Spikes. "How can I make it different? How can I make it have some substance to it? I love telling stories. What story can I tell? Why not tell the story that you lived, the life of a linebacker.
"Tell them what you went through, how you saw it, the experiences and the trials. That's how I came up with the concept of sharing intimate, truthful stories of the greatest linebackers that played the game."
Spikes has started to write, photograph and produce a series of books about the greatest NFL players of all time. While he plans to separate each book by the position the men played, the first one he chose to create will be about the position that he knows best.
"What I do is go in and talk with the guys, I'll get their stories," Spikes said. "How did they become great? And from that story, I go in and pick out the most emotionally drawn sentences. I try to go back and reenact that image with that passage that they told me in the conversation. Then I blend them together perfectly, so when you read the story, the story will drive the images. And when you look at the images, the images will drive the story."
Among the former linebackers who told Spikes their stories are Ray Lewis, Willie Lanier, Harry Carson, Mike Singletary and Eagles legend, the late Chuck Bednarik.
"I went to talk to Mr. Chuck, and we spent the whole day together. He gave me an opportunity to come into his house and sit down and talk with him," Spikes said. "We went to his high school stadium (in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) where his statue is located. He just told me stories about his statue. He told me stories about being in World War II.
"He told me he had a hard time remembering things, and I was like, 'It's not about that, I just want to talk with you and I want to be able to inspire the youth, just inspire the world, because a lot of times people look at us on this beautiful platform that God gave us, that we're different.
"But in all reality, we're really not different. It was just a point in our lives that something happened to where we made our minds up and said, 'This is the moment to where I believe I can do it.'"