Posted December 18, 2013

London Fletcher ’99 percent certain’ he will retire after 2013 season

NFC East, Washington Redskins
Sunday's game against the Cowboys will mark London Fletcher's 214th straight start, a record among linebackers.

Sunday’s game will mark London Fletcher’s 214th straight start, a record among linebackers. (Simon Bruty/SI)

London Fletcher has played in 254 consecutive games. His run looks like it could end at 256.

The 38-year-old Fletcher, a 16-year NFL veteran, announced Wednesday that he is “99-percent certain” he will retire after Washington’s season ends next week. If he follows through with that plan, the Redskins would open 2014 without Fletcher in the lineup for the first time since he joined the team in 2007. The last game Fletcher missed, period, was with Buffalo in 2004.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish,” said Fletcher, who added that he will make his final decision on retirement after one more discussion with his wife.

Sunday’s game against the Cowboys would mark Fletcher’s 214th consecutive start, too, a record for NFL linebackers. He needs just two tackles over Washington’s final two games to record his 14th straight 100-tackle season.

“What every player wants to do is to leave a legacy,” Fletcher said.

LAYDEN: Fletcher has made a career of far exceeding undersized expectations

If Fletcher does indeed call it quits, the clock on his potential Hall of Fame candidacy would begin ticking — the Hall’s rules require a player to be retired for five years before being eligible for induction, meaning Fletcher’s first opportunity on the ballot would come in 2019.

During an NFL Network interview before the current season began, Fletcher said that he believed he deserved Hall of Fame consideration.

“Just looking strictly at the numbers, I think so. I think, when you look at my career and what I’ve been able to accomplish, it would be arguable to say that I’ve been able to perform at a Hall of Fame level.”

He certainly has a case, if only because of his incredible longevity. On top of the consecutive-games run, though, Fletcher also has been named to four Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl XXXIV ring with the St. Louis Rams.

Fletcher also took a moment from discussing his own future to throw his support behind current Washington head coach Mike Shanahan. Now in his fourth season playing under Shanahan, Fletcher recommended that owner Daniel Snyder stay the course for 2014.

“I think Coach Shanahan is a great coach,” Fletcher said. “Ninety-five percent of the guys who played for him loved playing for him.”

Shanahan, for his part, praised London as well.

“I’ve never been around a guy quite like London who prepared for every game like Super Bowl.”

8 comments
mikemcd41
mikemcd41

As a Rams fan, I will say that after Fletcher left,  we were lost at MLB.  It wasn't until Laurinaitis arrived that the team had a true leader in the middle.  Never the most physically gifted, he made the most of the what size he did have.  Reminds me a lot of Sam Mills in that respect.  I don't know if he'll get into the Hall, but I think he'd deserve serious consideration.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Tremendous leadership. That's how I think of him. I don't know if he'll make the Hall, but he deserves something for tolerating Dan Snyder and his succession of bad coaches (Joe Gibbs excepted).

geewhiz
geewhiz

Great player, classy as they come.  Hard to believe he was part of those epic Rams teams...seems so long ago.  

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

I respect the hell out of his talent.  Too bad he had to go out on that dog of a team.

PWINGS
PWINGS

I hope he gets serious consideration for the HOF. He's been a consistent pro and an exemplary leader. I think he'd make an excellent coach and I hope an NFL team gives him that opportunity of he wants it. 

As for why he's choosing to retire from Washington at this time, look at the team's performance and the direction it's headed under Danny Boy's leadership. Then imagine Danny Glover as Inspector Murtaugh in the movie Lethal Weapon disgustedly saying "I'm getting too old for this sh&t!".

Good luck, London.

leavellme1
leavellme1

@mikemcd41 I don't think you need to qualify your statement ("we were lost at MLB'). Fletcher's leadership is such that, when he left, the team was lost. Period. What a great competitor. What a great player. What a great person.

mikemcd41
mikemcd41

@PWINGS The fact that he put up with playing for Snyder as long as he did is practically worthy of enshrinement by itself.


Murtaugh--er, London could always use the excuse that he hurt his back lifting weights.