Redskins' D relies on ageless Fletcher
Each season when he studies video of the Washington Redskins, the first thing that stands out for New York Giants left guard Kevin Boothe is the “ageless machine.”
That’s what Boothe calls 37-year-old middle linebacker London Fletcher.
“Every time we’re getting ready to play them, it always seems like No. 59 is the guy getting off the pile,” said Boothe, who will be seeing Fletcher up close once again Sunday in the FOX America’s Game of the Week between the Giants and visiting Redskins (1 p.m. ET kickoff).
“That’s going to be the key Sunday. Somehow, we’ve got to get him blocked and neutralize their front seven guys.”
For 15 seasons, that task has proven easier said than done.
Fletcher has registered 1,600 tackles during his NFL career. With 54 stops in 2012, he’s en route to leading Washington in that category again for a fifth straight season.
Throughout it all, Fletcher has stayed in remarkably good health. He is the active leader in consecutive games played with 230, a total topped by only one other defensive player (Bill Romanowski) since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Plus, Fletcher has made an impact in the Redskins organization as a locker-room leader and with his off-field participation in charitable causes.
In the following question-and-answer with FOXSports.com, Fletcher talked about his lengthy NFL career, the career-threatening triceps injury suffered by fellow star linebacker Ray Lewis, Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and how long he wants to continue playing himself.
Q: How have you seen the linebacker position change since you entered the NFL in 1998?
Fletcher: You’ve got more situations where you’ve got to play pass coverage. It’s a quarterback-driven league. There’s definitely more emphasis on being able to cover instead of just stopping the run.
Q: What are some of the things you can attribute to being able to play for 15 seasons?
Fletcher: Great genes first and foremost (laughs). Listening to my body, being lucky and the maintenance part of (training) and all the different things I do to make sure my body stays working well.
Q: If Ray Lewis has played his final NFL game, how will you remember him?
Fletcher: Being a great player, really the measuring stick for middle linebackers of my era. He brought a great passion, fire and intensity to the position week in and week out. He’s one of the great leaders of all time. I don’t know if it’s over for him or not, though.
Q: How happy are you that you were able to re-sign with the Redskins after it didn’t look so certain during the early part of the offseason?
Fletcher: Obviously, it worked out well for me being able to come back here. I’m familiar with the defense we’re playing. I wanted to continue to build on the legacy I established here. I like it here. The organization treats me well so I don’t have any complaints.
Q: How has the defense adjusted to the loss of linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker?
Fletcher: I think the defensive coaches have taken advantage of the strengths of the other guys who have replaced them. There have been some situations where we’ve had to play a couple of different guys in different roles to replace the guys we’ve lost. With that being said, the guys have accepted the challenge in the roles that they’re playing and they’ve played them well.
Q: Considering all the attention he’s getting, have you had a chance to talk with Robert Griffin III about handling life in the NFL spotlight?
Fletcher: We talk about a lot of things. The best advice I’ve told him is that with a lot of stuff, you’re just going to have to experience it yourself. I can tell you one thing but experience is the best teacher sometimes.
Q: I know you’ve said you’re approaching your NFL career on a year-to-year basis at this point. What are your plans for life after football?
Fletcher: I would like to possibly get into broadcasting. I do some things with my foundation now (www.londonsbridge.squarespace.com) trying to help young people out.
Q: You’ve accomplished just about everything in your NFL career, including winning a Super Bowl. What’s left that you want to get done?
Fletcher: I’m still playing at such a high level. They still want me here. I’m having fun. We just go year to year and see how things happen.