London Levi Fletcher (born May 19, 1975) is a former American football linebacker who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at John Carroll, and signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 1998. Fletcher also played for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins.

London Fletcher
London Fletcher
Fletcher with the Washington Redskins in 2013
No. 59
Position:Inside linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1975-05-19) May 19, 1975 (age 44)
Cleveland, Ohio
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:242 lb (110 kg)
Career information
High school:Cleveland (OH) Villa Angela-St. Joseph
College:John Carroll
Undrafted:1998
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Tackles:2,031
Quarterback sacks:39.0
Pass deflections:92
Interceptions:23
Forced fumbles:20
Touchdowns:2
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Fletcher was well known for never missing a game in his career, being one of only five players in NFL history to play in over 250 consecutive games.[1] Fletcher also holds the record for consecutive starts at the linebacker position.[1] He eventually finished his career with 215 consecutive games started, which ties him for 6th all time along with Alan Page and Ronde Barber.[2][3]

High school yearsEdit

Fletcher attended Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, Ohio, and won varsity letters in football and basketball. He played on two state championship basketball teams.[citation needed]

College yearsEdit

While attending John Carroll University, Fletcher played both basketball and football for the John Carroll Blue Streaks. As a senior, he had 202 tackles (a school-record) and was named the Division III National Linebacker of the Year. Fletcher also attended Saint Francis University of Pennsylvania before transferring to John Carroll University. He was on the men's basketball team while at Saint Francis.

Professional careerEdit

Fletcher attended the NFL Scouting Combine and ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. He worked out for several NFL teams and was expected to be a day 2 selection, but was not one of the 30 linebackers drafted during the 1998 NFL Draft.[4]

St. Louis RamsEdit

1998Edit

On April 28, 1998, the St. Louis Rams signed Fletcher to a one-year, $158,000 contract as an undrafted free agent.[5]

He made his professional regular season debut in the St. Louis Rams’ season-opening 24-17 loss against the New Orleans Saints. On December 27, 1998, Fletcher earned his first career start after Eric Hill sustained an injury. He made eight solo tackles on defense and seven special teams tackles as the Rams lost 38-19 at the San Francisco 49ers in a Week 17.[6] Fletcher earned the Rams Rookie of the Year Award.[7] He finished the season with 14 combined tackles (11 solo) in 16 games and one start.[8]

1999Edit

Throughout training camp, Fletcher competed against Charlie Clemons and Lorenzo Styles to be the starting middle linebacker after the Rams chose not to re-sign Eric Hill.[9] Head coach Dick Vermeil named Fletcher the starting middle linebacker to begin the regular season, alongside outside linebacker Todd Collins and Mike Jones.[10]

On October 3, 1999, Fletcher collected a season-high 11 combined tackles (nine solo) and made his first career sack during a 38-10 win at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. Fletcher sacked Bengals’ quarterback Jeff Blake for a ten-yard loss during the third quarter.[11] In Week 9, Fletcher recorded five combined tackles and earned his first career safety during a 31-27 loss at the Detroit Lions. Fletcher earner his safety after tackling running back Greg Hill in the endzone for a one-yard loss during the first quarter.[12] Fletcher started in all 16 games in 1999 and recorded a total of 138 tackles on defense and special teams combined. His 138 tackles were the most by a Ram since Roman Phifer collected 149 tackles in the 1995.[7] Fletcher recorded 90 combined tackles (66 solo), with three sacks, and one safety on defense.[13]

The St. Louis Rams finished first in the NFC West with a 13–3 record and earned a first round bye. On January 16, 2000, Fletcher started in his first career playoff game and recorded 11 combined tackles (eight solo) and made one sack during a 49-37 victory against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round. The following week, he made nine combined tackles as the Rams defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-6 in the NFC Championship Game. On January 30, 2000, Fletcher started in Super Bowl XXXIV and recorded 11 combined tackles (nine solo) as the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16.[13] He also was named to the All-Madden team and as a second alternate to the Pro Bowl for the first time.

2000Edit

On February 2, 2000, St. Louis Rams’ head coach Dick Vermeil announced his decision to retire. The St. Louis Rams promoted offensive coordinator Mike Martz to head coach.[14] Martz retained Fletcher, Collins, and Jones as the starting linebackers. He started in the St. Louis Rams’ against the Denver Broncos and collected a season-high 14 combined tackles (nine solo) and made two sacks during their 41-36 victory. On November 12, 2000, Fletcher made six solo tackles, forced a fumble, and made his first career interception during a 38-24 at the New York Giants in Week 11. Fletcher intercepted a pass by Giants’ Kerry Collins, that was intended for wide receiver Ike Hilliard, and returned it for a 12-yard gain during the third quarter.[15] In Week 13, Fletcher recorded seven combined tackles, was credited with half a sack, and made a season-high two interceptions during a 31-24 loss against the New Orleans Saints. He made both interceptions off pass attempts by Saints’ quarterback Aaron Brooks.[16] In Week 15, he recorded ten combined tackles (nine solo) and two sacks during a 40-29 victory against the Minnesota Vikings. His performance earned him NFC Defensive Player is the Week honors.[7] He led the team with 193 tackles on defense and special teams, eclipsing the old franchise mark of 185 set by LB Jim Collins in 1984. Fletcher recorded 132 combined tackles (105 solo) solely on defense and made four interceptions and 5.5 sacks in 16 games and 15 starts.[17]

2001Edit

In 2001, Fletcher earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice and was an alternate to the pro bowl for the third straight season. In a game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 23, he led the team with a career-high 21 tackles, 15 solo. The second time was after his big performance against the New England Patriots on November 18 as he led the team with 17 tackles with one pass deflection. He forced a fumble on the Rams’ three-yard line that led to a 97-yard scoring drive to end the first half and intercepted a Tom Brady pass with 5:18 left in the third quarter for an 18-yard return.[18] This season, the Rams made the Super Bowl XXXVI but were defeated by the Patriots 20–17, after kicker Adam Vinatieri made a game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired.

Buffalo BillsEdit

On March 6, 2002, the Buffalo Bills signed Fletcher to a five-year, $17.12 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $4 million.[19]

In the 2002 season, his first season with the Bills, Fletcher set a career-high for himself as well as a franchise record with 209 tackles, which broke the old mark of 206 set by Chris Spielman in 1996. He also was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate eight times though he never was actually a Pro Bowler as a Bill even though in 2002 he was a second alternate to the game.[20] Since 2002, Fletcher started all 16 regular season games for the Bills until his last season in 2006, when he recorded a team-high 157 tackles, including nine for loss, set a career-high with 14 deflections and tied a career-high with four interceptions. On September 10, in the first regular season game, Fletcher scored his first career touchdown after recovering a fumble by the Patriots' Tom Brady and returning it five yards for a touchdown only 12 seconds into the game.[21] Fletcher was named a 2007 Pro Bowl alternate in his last season as a member of the Bills.

Washington RedskinsEdit

 
Fletcher (#59) pursuing Vernand Morency with Rocky McIntosh (#52) in 2007 season.

On March 2, 2007, Fletcher signed with the Washington Redskins to a five-year, $25 million contract.[22][23] He immediately became the team's starting middle linebacker. With his first season on the team, he was named co-winner of the B.J. Blanchard Award, an honor given annually to a Redskins player who best helps the local media do their jobs, along with quarterback Jason Campbell.[7] Fletcher continued his Pro Bowl-caliber run with the Redskins in 2008.

"I think he's one of the most underrated players in the league. Pound for pound, you can't measure the way he plays and what he means to that team."

Lawyer Milloy
Former Buffalo Bills’ teammate

He was the Redskins' defensive co-captain for the team from 2008 season until he retired.[24] Also in 2008, the Redskins nominated Fletcher as their Walter Payton Man of the Year Award representative.[25]

Fletcher was named to the NFC squad in the 2010 Pro Bowl after Jonathan Vilma's New Orleans Saints qualified for Super Bowl XLIV,[26] the first Pro Bowl selection in his career. Fletcher was also one of three candidates for the 2009 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which was ultimately won by the Kansas City Chiefs's Brian Waters.[27]

After the Redskins' switch to a 3–4 defensive scheme, Fletcher moved from the middle linebacker position to the left inside linebacker for the 2010 season. He made the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive time in 2010, where he had an interception which set up a touchdown for the NFC.

Despite not making the 2012 Pro Bowl starting roster, Fletcher led the entire league in tackles with 166 tackles by the end of the 2011 season.[28] He started all 16 games of the 2011 season and recorded 166 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, and eight pass breakups. Fletcher, however, did make it as alternate for the 2012 Pro Bowl along with teammates, Brian Orakpo and Lorenzo Alexander.[29] On January 9, 2012, Fletcher was added to the NFC 2012 Pro Bowl roster after Brian Urlacher confirmed that he would not be participating.[30] On January 11, 2012, it was announced that Fletcher won the Bart Starr Award.[31] He was also named the Redskins' 2011 Defensive Player of the Year.[32]

 
Fletcher on the sidelines at the 2013 Pro Bowl.

On April 13, 2012, Fletcher was re-signed by the Redskins to a two-year contract worth $10.75 million with $5.25 million guaranteed.[33][34] He was given the 87th ranking in the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012 list.[35] Despite the Redskins' 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Rams in Week 2 of the 2012 season, Fletcher had a stellar performance. In the game, he intercepted quarterback Sam Bradford in the endzone and forced running back Daryl Richardson to fumble in the fourth quarter and the ball was recovered by DeAngelo Hall, which gave the Redskins one last attempt to tie or win the game.[36][37] In the Week 12 win against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, he recorded his second interception for the season making him one of three active NFL players, at that time, to have recorded 20 interceptions and 30 sacks, the other two being Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis.[38] Fletcher intercepted Joe Flacco in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens.[39][40] He had another interception, against Brandon Weeden, in the Redskins' win over the Cleveland Browns.[41] He finished the season with 139 tackles, three sacks, and a career-high five interceptions.[42]

There was doubt over whether Fletcher would return for the 2013 season[43] until it was announced that he had surgery on his left ankle and was scheduled for elbow surgery to prepare for another season with the Redskins on March 6, 2013.[44][45] On November 7, Fletcher started his 208th consecutive game, tying the league's all-time record of most starts by a linebacker last held by retired linebacker Derrick Brooks.[46]

RetirementEdit

On December 18, 2013, Fletcher announced that he was "99 percent" sure that he was going to retire from professional football after the 2013 season.[47][48] Fletcher finished his career having played in 256 consecutive games and starting 215 consecutive games, which is the NFL all-time record of consecutive starts at the linebacker position.[49]

Career awards and highlightsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Fletcher and his wife Charne have three children, two daughters, Paige and Brooke, and a son, Cortland Steele.[7]

Fletcher is a Christian. Fletcher spoke about his conversion to Christianity saying, "I spent years chasing things I thought would bring me everlasting joy and happiness: chasing Super Bowl rings or a multi-million dollar contract; or a new house, cars and jewelry. None of those things did for me what Christ did in an instant."[51]

Fletcher was named a Pro Bowl alternate eleven times during his career and did not play in his first one until the 2010 Pro Bowl via replacing Jonathan Vilma. As a result, Fletcher called himself the NFL version of Susan Lucci, who won a Daytime Emmy in 1999 after 19 nominations.[52]

NFL career statisticsEdit

Legend
Bold Career high
Year Team GP Tackles Fumbles Interceptions
Comb Total Ast Sack FF FR Yards Int Yards Avg Long TD PD
1998 STL 16 14 11 3 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1999 STL 16 90 66 24 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2000 STL 16 132 105 27 5.5 1 0 0 4 33 8 12 0 8
2001 STL 16 116 89 27 4.5 4 0 0 2 18 9 18 0 5
2002 BUF 16 147 97 50 3.0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2003 BUF 16 133 96 37 2.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
2004 BUF 16 142 92 50 3.5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
2005 BUF 16 157 104 53 4.0 1 2 0 1 20 20 20 0 3
2006 BUF 16 146 104 42 2.0 0 1 0 4 30 8 17 1 11
2007 WAS 16 129 100 28 0.0 0 1 0 3 36 12 27 1 10
2008 WAS 16 133 96 37 0.5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
2009 WAS 16 142 95 47 2.0 1 0 0 1 2 2 2 0 6
2010 WAS 16 136 87 49 2.5 3 3 -3 1 0 0 0 0 11
2011 WAS 16 166 96 70 1.5 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 8
2012 WAS 16 139 78 61 3.0 1 0 0 5 29 6 10 0 11
2013 WAS 16 111 63 48 2.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Career 256 2,032 1,379 653 39.0 20 12 -3 23 168 7 27 2 92

Playoffs

Year Team GP Tackles Fumbles Interceptions
Comb Total Ast Sack FF FR Yards Int Yards Avg Long TD PD
1999 STL 3 31 24 7 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2000 STL 1 8 5 3 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2001 STL 3 14 9 5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2007 WAS 1 2 2 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2012 WAS 1 15 5 10 0.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Career 9 70 45 25 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Fletcher joins NFL's elite 250 club
  2. ^ ESPN NFL
  3. ^ Bell, Jarrett (October 24, 2012). "Balance problem puts Redskins LB London Fletcher's streak in doubt". USAToday.com. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  4. ^ "Bills' Fletcher Relishes His Role as an Undersized Iron Man". New York Times. December 8, 2006. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  5. ^ "Spotrac.com: London Fletcher contract". Spotrac.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  6. ^ "Don't Sell Him Short: Ram MLB Fletcher the Little Engine that Could". nypost.com. January 26, 2000. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e [1]
  8. ^ "London Fletcher Game by Game stats and Performance". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  9. ^ "SUPER BOWL XXXIV: RAMS VS. TITANS; Little Big Man". New York Times. January 30, 2000. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  10. ^ "1999 St. Louis Rams Starters, Roster, & Players". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  11. ^ "St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals - October 3rd, 1999". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  12. ^ "St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions - November 7th, 1999". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "London Fletcher Game by Game Stats and Performance (1999)". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  14. ^ "PRO FOOTBALL; Tearful Vermeil Goes our on top". New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  15. ^ "St. Louis Rams at New York Giants - November 12th, 2000". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  16. ^ "New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams - November 26th, 2000". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "London Fletcher Game by Game stats and Performance (2000)". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  18. ^ NFL Game Center: Post Game- St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots- 2001 Week 10
  19. ^ "Bills get Fletcher to fill void of Cowart'a departure". espncdn.com. March 6, 2002. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  20. ^ "Reuters Good, Bad, and Ugly". October 1, 2009.
  21. ^ NFL Game Center: Box Score- Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots- 2006 1 Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Fletcher Signs With Redskins Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ In Fletcher, A 'Quarterback' For the Defense Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ http://blog.redskins.com/2008/10/03/portrait-of-the-captains-as-young-men-or-gangsters-or-maybe-deacons/
  25. ^ Fletcher Wins Redskins' Community Honor Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/01/25/london-fletcher-finally-makes-it-to-the-pro-bowl/
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ Jones, Mike (January 2, 2012). "London Fletcher ends season as NFL's leading tackler". Washington Post. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  29. ^ Maese, Rick (December 28, 2011). "London Fletcher among Redskins' Pro Bowl alternates". Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  30. ^ "London Fletcher will play in Pro Bowl". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  31. ^ "'Skins London Fletcher nabs Bart Starr Award for character, leadership". GantDaily.com. Archived from the original on October 11, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  32. ^ Jones, Mike (August 24, 2012). "Fred Davis, London Fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander named Redskins' 2011 players of the year". Washington Post. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  33. ^ Campbell, Rich (April 13, 2012). "Redskins retain team captain London Fletcher". WashingtonTimes.com. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  34. ^ "Fletcher's 'Skins deal for two years, $10.75M". NFL.com. April 16, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  35. ^ http://www.hogshaven.com/2012/5/3/2995559/players-rank-london-fletcher-87th-best-player-in-nfl
  36. ^ Tinsman, Brian (September 17, 2012). "Redskins-Rams: Week 2 Game Notes". Redskins.com. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  37. ^ Hamilton, Tracee (September 17, 2012). "It's official: NFL has problem with replacement refs". Washington Post. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  38. ^ Tinsman, Brian (November 22, 2012). "Redskins Score Texas-Sized Win, 38-31". Redskins.com. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  39. ^ Tinsman, Brian (December 10, 2012). "Monday Morning Stats Pack: Redskins-Ravens". Redskins.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  40. ^ Tinsman, Brian (December 9, 2012). "Redskins Win Thriller In Overtime, 31-28". Redskins.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  41. ^ Tinsman, Brian (December 17, 2012). "Victory Monday Stats Pack: Redskins-Browns". Redskins. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  42. ^ Jones, Mike (May 24, 2013). "Redskins' London Fletcher didn't seriously consider retirement". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  43. ^ Kogod, Sarah (February 20, 2013). "London Fletcher says he's still deciding whether to play next season". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  44. ^ Copeland, Kareem (March 6, 2013). "London Fletcher preps for Washington Redskins return". NFL.com. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  45. ^ Jones, Mike (March 6, 2013). "London Fletcher undergoes ankle surgery, eyes return next season". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  46. ^ Hiatt, Gabe (November 11, 2013). "A Look At Fletcher And Brooks". Redskins.com. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  47. ^ Keim, John (December 18, 2013). "London Fletcher Likely To Retire". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  48. ^ Tinsman, Brian (December 18, 2013). "London Fletcher: 'My Work Is Done Here'". Redskins.com. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  49. ^ Stuart, Chase (December 28, 2013). "Fletcher Lasted Where Most Don't". NYTimes.com. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  50. ^ "Redskins To Honor London Fletcher, Chris Samuels With Induction Into Team's Ring Of Fame". Redskins.com. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  51. ^ "My Story: London Fletcher".
  52. ^ "Fletcher: 'I'm the Susan Lucci of the NFL'". ESPN.com. December 18, 2008.

External linksEdit