London Fletcher Is Here To PlayPosted: August 20, 2013
In this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior writer Tim Layden profiles 38-year-old Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who has made a career of far exceeding his undersized expectations and is closing in on the NFL’s defensive iron man streak.
After 15 years, Fletcher is tied for the fourth-longest consecutive games played streak in NFL history with 240. In the story he reveals that he has suffered many concussions over the years and admits that he is well aware of the risk that a long career’s worth of head blows brings but doesn’t let it stop him from playing. “I’ve seen the situation some guys are in,” he says, “but this is what I signed up for.” So how many concussions does Fletcher thing he has had? Single digits? “Probably not,” Fletcher says. “I’ve been playing a long time.” (PAGE 36)
The linebacker also has experienced his fair share of other injuries – from his hamstring to his right elbow – over the past few years but continues to play despite the pain might be he in. “Nobody made me do it,” says Fletcher. “I asked the questions I needed to, and then, when I was convinced wasn’t putting myself at risk, I did it. It’s not fun, but I couldn’t imagine myself not being out there on Sunday.” (PAGE 36)
His fearless attitude and passion to succeed is something Fletcher’s teammates recognize and admire. “Everybody talks about how they get after it, but how many guys can say they gave everything they had on every play?” says former linebacker Mike Jones, who played alongside Fletcher in St. Louis. “Almost none. It’s a trait few guys have. London has it.” (PAGE 36)
In order to keep up with the physical demands football requires of its players, Fletcher engages in an intense six-week training regimen before the season starts, one that pushes his limits and exemplifies his devotion the game. “When I’m not playing football,” he says, “I’m thinking about playing football, the new chess matches for every opponent.” (PAGE 37)
Despite his aging body and the possibility for more injuries on the forefront, the Redskins hope to squeeze one more productive year out of the linebacker, while Fletcher looks forward to one more season playing the game he loves with the people closest to him. “Those 60 minutes every week with my team and my teammates,” he says, “that’s what I love.” (PAGE 40)