London Fletcher Plans to Play Next Season...

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London Fletcher Plans to Play Next Season...

Postby 1niksder » Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:33 am

London Fletcher Plans to Play Next Season, Having Ankle Surgery


London Fletcher is having surgery this morning to repair the left ankle that bothered him for much of the second half of the 2012 Redskins season. Later this month, the Pro Bowl inside linebacker will go under the knife again for some cleanup work on an elbow. What’s amazing is that after 15 NFL seasons and nearly 38 years on the planet, the operations will be the first of Fletcher’s life.

But they had to happen because as Fletcher told me the other day while making me promise to hold the news until this morning, “Surgery is the first step towards prepping for next season.”

So the captain has shelved the retirement talk that has been swirling and is planning to return in 2013 after helping lead Washington from a 3-6 start to a 10-6 finish, its first playoff berth in five years and its first NFC East title since 1999.

Fletcher’s decision to keep playing also has to be a relief for coach Mike Shanahan and the cap-strapped Redskins since veteran backup Lorenzo Alexander is six days from being a free agent and the other possible replacement on the roster, Keenan Robinson, is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered on Thanksgiving.

On a personal level, I’m also glad that Fletcher’s coming back and not just because he’s about as close to my age as a pro team sports athlete gets. Unlike such young Redskins as Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, Fletcher’s too old to be my son.

Although our backgrounds are very different, Fletcher and I click. That’s not surprising because when you cover a sports team on a regular basis, you inevitably get closer to some players than others.

When I covered the Caps in the early 1990s, Alan May, Al Iafrate and Calle Johansson were among “my guys.” Covering the Redskins over the past two decades, Darrell Green, Ray Brown, Trevor Matich, Ken Harvey, Ethan Albright, Cornelius Griffin and Casey Rabach were some who fit the bill. To this day, LaVar Arrington calls me his “messenger.”

There’s no real way to explain why you connect with some players more than others. It’s like school or work. You’re colleagues with some people and friends with others.

I covered the Super Bowls that Fletcher started in for St. Louis in 1999 and 2001. I spent a few days at the Rams’ complex the season in between, but I truthfully don’t remember if I even talked to him at length during any of those weeks.

When the Redskins signed Fletcher in March 2007, I thought it was a smart move because after two fine years Washington was coming off a dreadful season on defense and Fletcher had directed then-defensive boss Gregg Williams’ system in Buffalo in 2002 and 2003. I also admired Fletcher because he had overcome his short stature and not even being drafted to become the NFL’s top tackler.

But when I sat down with Fletcher not long after he joined the Redskins, I really learned what he had overcome to attain stardom. Before he turned 13 on Cleveland’s dangerous East Side, Fletcher’s sister had been raped and murdered, his grandmother had died in his arms, and his brother had embarked on a lifetime behind bars. His mother was recovering from her drug addiction when she died days before his wedding in 2006.

That interview bonded us. Over the ensuing six seasons, we’ve had private chats every so often. Fletcher asks about my job situation. I ask how he’s really feeling as he fights through a series of nagging injuries without missing a game, something he has yet to do during his 15 NFL seasons. We talk about our children and basketball, his first love and the sport in which he earned a college scholarship.

After Washington’s ugly 2011 season ended in Philadelphia with a 10th defeat in 12 games, I asked a not atypical negative-tinged question. Fletcher gave a typically more positive answer. Then, with a smile and a shake of his head, sarcastically uttered the final postgame press conference words of that 5-11 campaign, “I love you, David.”

I knew Fletcher wasn’t really mad at me. He was just heartsick over a third straight double-digit loss season. About to be 37, Fletcher admitted he might not have re-signed with Washington last spring if the Redskins hadn’t made a deal with the Rams which allowed them to draft Griffin second overall.

“To go into another year with not having a [good] quarterback was not very appealing to me, I’ll tell you that,” Fletcher said with the candor that came with being the captain and a Pro Bowl pick three years running. So when they were able to make the trade … that definitely made the situation a lot brighter as far as coming back here. I’ve had enough years of other stuff.”

And now Fletcher has decided that he’s willing to put up with at least one more year of such stuff as practices in the heat and humidity of August and in the cold and wind of December, endless meetings, and too many questions from nosy reporters in order to have the chance of going out on top with his first trip to the Super Bowl in 12 years.
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Postby SkinsJock » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:45 am

=D> thanks 1niksder - that's great news ...

Fletcher is a warrior and even more important- his leadership and knowledge on the field is almost irreplaceable

his decision was most likely helped by knowing that the 'issues' on D will be addressed by the FO PLUS the return of a number of very good players
Getting our QB back will help a lot but we still have a lot of issues to address

Players and coaches need to believe that they can be successful - they are not playing with that attitude - big changes are coming

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Postby spudstr04 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:26 am

SkinsJock wrote:=D> thanks 1niksder - that's great news ...

Fletcher is a warrior and even more important- his leadership and knowledge on the field is almost irreplaceable

his decision was most likely helped by knowing that the 'issues' on D will be addressed by the FO PLUS the return of a number of very good players


He needs to take a pay cut. Supposed to make over $5 mill this upcoming season.
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Postby TimSkin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:34 pm

spudstr04 wrote:
SkinsJock wrote:=D> thanks 1niksder - that's great news ...

Fletcher is a warrior and even more important- his leadership and knowledge on the field is almost irreplaceable

his decision was most likely helped by knowing that the 'issues' on D will be addressed by the FO PLUS the return of a number of very good players


He needs to take a pay cut. Supposed to make over $5 mill this upcoming season.


I really doubt he's gonna take a paycut when he just signed a 2 year deal last year and this year will prolly be his last year so he wont sign an extension to spread it out.
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Postby markshark84 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:25 pm

With Alexander's contract up in the air, this is great news -- but not unexpected since Fletcher is a true warrior. Regardless, we really need Fletcher back.

I don't see him taking a pay cut, however. He has been underpaid for quite some time while in DC.
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Postby SkinsJock » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:48 pm

I hope both Alexander and Fletcher are a part of the roster again this season

hopefully both will be paid very well as they are BOTH, VERY important pieces
Getting our QB back will help a lot but we still have a lot of issues to address

Players and coaches need to believe that they can be successful - they are not playing with that attitude - big changes are coming

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Postby HEROHAMO » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:10 pm

This guy is not human.
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Postby Chris Luva Luva » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:05 am

I'm curious to see where he is at this point in his career. The saftey play made everyone look worse than they were last year... If we can sure the safety position up and get our pass rush more consistent, I think he might play in 2014 also... Depending on how the money is handled, RGIII's knee and who we can acquire in the next 2 drafts... We could be a SB contender in 2014. He WON'T miss that season if there's a legit chance.
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Postby Irn-Bru » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:45 pm

TimSkin wrote:
spudstr04 wrote:He needs to take a pay cut. Supposed to make over $5 mill this upcoming season.


I really doubt he's gonna take a paycut when he just signed a 2 year deal last year and this year will prolly be his last year so he wont sign an extension to spread it out.


Yep. The Skins would be insane to restructure his contract now. It would just mean dead cap space in 2014 and possibly later. $5 million for your defensive captain is not too much to pay. Let's look at Hall's salary before we talk about adjusting Fletcher's.
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Postby Irn-Bru » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:48 pm

Chris Luva Luva wrote:I'm curious to see where he is at this point in his career.


I'm expecting his struggles to cover TEs to continue; it was getting pretty obvious last year and I doubt that it will improve. But I still expect him to be one of our best defenders. The man is a beast and brings it on every play.
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Postby Countertrey » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:18 pm

HEROHAMO wrote:This guy is not human.


I think he's the most human of all.
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Postby DarthMonk » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:24 pm

Irn-Bru wrote:
Chris Luva Luva wrote:I'm curious to see where he is at this point in his career.


I'm expecting his struggles to cover TEs to continue; it was getting pretty obvious last year and I doubt that it will improve. But I still expect him to be one of our best defenders. The man is a beast and brings it on every play.


Weird year. They put him on Sproles on opening day ... and other than 2 yard TD in prevent late ... he shut him down. Yet at other times something seemed wrong. Fletch had some undisclosed problems, no?

Great player. Signed the right contract last year. This should be it coming up and I expect his best.
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Postby Countertrey » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:26 pm

^ I'm thinking that a non-healing ankle injury hurts in pass coverage most of all... fix the ankle... some of that comes back.
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Postby Deadskins » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:24 pm

DarthMonk wrote:Fletch had some undisclosed problems, no?

No. They were disclosed.
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Postby 1niksder » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:38 am

Countertrey wrote:^ I'm thinking that a non-healing ankle injury hurts in pass coverage most of all... fix the ankle... some of that comes back.


Will be having elbow surgery before training camp starts too.

Might decrease some of the missed tackles once that heals.
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