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