Here’s hoping Washington Redskins middle linebacker London Fletcher wasn’t wearing any valuables yesterday, because he got robbed.
Of course, if I know Fletcher as well as I think I do, there’s no way he was wearing anything flashy. That’s simply not his style, which is probably why the 11-year veteran has never received a Pro Bowl nod.
While it’s true that the NFL’s version of an all-star game is completely irrelevant, it still would have been nice to see Fletcher finally get the recognition he deserves. Since the first moment he arrived in D.C., Fletcher has been the heart and soul of this defense (which, by the way, is routinely ranked in the top 10 in the league).
Even though he’s been dealing with a foot injury for some time now, there’s zero chance of Fletcher actually missing a game … or even a play. Don’t take my word for it, listen to Fletcher’s boss.
“If you listen to my wife, she said I’d have to be in the hospital, strapped down to the bed,” Fletcher said. “Not just in the hospital, but actually strapped to the bed.”
In the violent world of the NFL, where everybody is banged up to some extent during the season, Fletcher is always there. In fact, Fletcher has played in 133 consecutive games and you better believe he takes that streak seriously.
”If I feel I can go out and help the team win, then I’m gonna do my all to be out there and play,” Fletcher said.
Not to take anything away from the four Redskins players – running back Clinton Portis, fullback Mike Sellers, tight end Chris Cooley and tackle Chris Samuels – who were voted to the Pro Bowl, but if only one person from the burgundy and gold was sent to Hawaii, it should be Fletcher.
He’s currently got 118 tackles, which is fifth best in the NFL. But more importantly, he’s the one player on the entire Redskins roster they can’t afford to play without. Even during this recent losing streak, when more than a few people are wondering which Redskins players have given up on the season, Fletcher refuses to mail it in. While still dealing with a lingering foot issue, he’s managed to rack up 32 tackles in the last three games. If that doesn’t show the true type of player he is, then nothing will.
And besides, one of the guys who got the nod ahead of Fletcher, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis is listed as an outside linebacker on NFL.com. How is he getting voted to one of the inside/middle linebacker slots over London? And do I need to mention that four players from the anemic Redskins offense made the Pro Bowl, but not one player from the team’s perennial top-10 defense was chosen?
I don’t want to make personal attacks on Willis or anyone else that made the Pro Bowl roster. The purpose of this post is simply to say that if ever there was someone who truly deserved to be honored for his talented and dedication, it’s London. The guy has more tackles this decade than any other linebacker in football. In fact, he’s got 200 more tackles than Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who is automatically voted to the Pro Bowl each and every year.
After sitting quietly for more than a decade, Fletcher finally had enough. When local media asked for his reaction to being left on the outside of the cool kid’s club yet again, Fletcher didn’t hold back.
“I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t a first-round draft pick, I don’t do some kind of dance when I make a 10-yard tackle, I don’t go out and get arrested. I believe in playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Fletcher told a group of reporters Wednesday.
“You line up each and every week, each and every play and you go out and get the job done,” Fletcher continued. “You look at my body of work and I’ve done that for 11 years. But because I’m not going out causing a lot of controversy, holding a private meeting with the coordinator saying this, this and this, causing a lot of strife on my team, I don’t garner a lot of attention. But when you turn the film on each and every week, each and every play, I’m gonna show up. That’s what I do. My career has been Hall of Fame worthy. But some coaches and some players get caught up in the hype reading the newspapers or listening to some national TV game as opposed to watching the game with no sound. It’s some BS. I put myself up against anybody playing the position, anybody.”
Shots at drama queens like Terrell Owens are great, but Fletcher saved the best line for last.
“To have it happen, year after year after year after year, you can’t tell me … an eight-time alternate, c’mon man,” he said. “That’s a trivia question. I’m the Susan Lucci of the NFL.”
Brian Murphy is an award-winning sportswriter who also goes by the name Homer McFanboy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.