Seemingly ageless Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has announced that he will almost certainly retire at the conclusion of the 2013 season. The 38-year-old is currently in his 16th NFL season and has had a remarkable career.
Fletcher is a four-time Pro Bowler and a two-time second-team All-Pro, and he has never missed a game in his long career. He holds the record for most consecutive starts by a linebacker (213) and the most consecutive games played by a linebacker (254) in NFL history.
Arguably the most prolific tackler of his era, Fletcher has had 116 combined tackles or more in each season since 2000. He won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2000, and went to another in 2002. He also led the NFL in tackles from 2000 to 2009 with 1,244 stops.
While Fletcher was never the biggest, or fastest guy and he went undrafted out of John Carroll University in 1998, his work ethic and passion endeared him to fans and fellow players. For his entire career, he’s basically been Ray Lewis without the flash.
Additionally, in 2012 Fletcher won the NFL’s Bart Starr Man of the Year Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.” If anyone embodies what that reward represents, it’s London Fletcher.
I see absolutely no scenario where Fletcher doesn’t wind up in the Hall of Fame. The NFL certainly won’t be the same without him.