After starring in the NFL as a two-time All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection for the San Francisco 49ers and playing inside linebacker for several teams, 15-year NFL veteran Takeo Spikes now has a career in sports television as a host of Fox Sports South’s Emmy-award winning program, “The Panel.” Once upon a time, he heard a different call of duty.

If I didn’t play pro football, I would have gone into the CIA or U.S. Secret Service. I have always thought that anytime you can wear a suit and carry a gun, that’s the coolest thing in the world. It’s like you’re the ultimate business guy, but then you turn into Superman. That’s my alter ego.

A lot of athletes would have chosen a career in law enforcement or within a field of protective service. I think the sense of power and control appeals to us. I knew how repetitious and physical this type of work can be, and that you need to be strong mentally to protect others.

I had an opportunity to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan two years ago, and shot grenade launchers with them. I can’t imagine bullets flying by my head and taking one. If I’m flying first class and see a soldier on the flight, I give up my seat because I have deep appreciation for what they do to keep our country safe.

There are superficial reasons why I’d want to be a professional “protector,” too. One favorite movie back in the day was “The Bodyguard,” with Kevin Costner. I saw myself as him and wished it were me who could kiss Whitney Houston.

My favorite TV show was “24.” I love Jack Bauer because he is relentless, just like Costner in “The Bodyguard.” It’s the same concept in the NFL. To stay on top, you have to stay focused and stay true to yourself. Everyone has to have what I call a “man code” to live by. It’s your own code of law, of what you believe and what you will live out. You see that in other movies like “Act of Valor.”

I saw myself in the Secret Service because I could be true to my code. It would be a career where I would be committed to what I do and treat everyone how I would want to be treated.

I’ve seen the Secret Service assigned to former President Jimmy Carter three times, and each time it was so cool. Once was when I was in high school flying to Florida for a recruiting trip, and the second was when I was playing with the Cincinnati Bengals. The third time was in rehab after my shoulder surgery, and President Carter was with the same therapist, Brian Tovin.

Each time I saw them, the thought crossed my mind that it’s still not too late to join up.