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)
Perennially loaded on offense, Houston finally has a dominant defense to match: a manic swat patrol that makes life miserable on quarterbacks. The best team in football? No doubt about it says SI writer Austin Murphy. The issue will be on stands Wednesday.
Defiance, Collective Guilt, Revival… Happy Valley One Year Later
A year after the Jerry Sandusky revelations rocked the university and put the football culture on trial, people in Happy Valley remain divided about where the responsibility lies – But not about their surprisingly resilient Nittany Lions. The issue will be on stands Wednesday.
Read the rest of this entry »
In the 42 years since Tom Dempsey kicked the longest field goal in NFL history, his mark has been matched three times but never surpassed. Now the most mysteriously enduring record in sports may finally be ripe to fall. Sixty-three should have fallen years ago, as kickers became more deadeye snipers – more explosive, more accurate and better schooled from a younger age-but the record remains intact, shared by a logjam of four kickers across 42 years of football. It has been protected by circumstance, strategy, worship at the altar of field position and, in no small part, the inherent challenge of guiding a football 63 yards through an opening 10 feet off the ground and 18 feet, 6 inches wide.