After 15 seasons in the NFL, there is very little left that Redskins inside linebacker
He showed that undersized, undrafted Division III linebackers can become impact players in the NFL and start in a Super Bowl after only two seasons in the league.
He showed that with proper preparation and fierce determination, the human body is capable of playing 240-straight games at one of the most physically-demanding positions in all of sports.
And after a decade and-a-half in the National Football League, London Fletcher said he never seriously considered retirement this offseason, knowing he still loved football too much to leave.
“I’m still playing and enjoying the game,” he told the media. “I have more to give to this team, more to accomplish, and I’m ready to play.
Fletcher suffered a debilitating ankle injury in Week 11 and battled pain to make every start down the stretch to an unlikely playoff berth. Even through the pain, Fletcher found motivation.
“The first half of [the 2012 season], I was banged up, with injuries here and there. The second half of the season, I got locked in,” he explained. “Not just myself, but the team we were really locked in. All focused on what we wanted to accomplish week in and week out.
“I knew I needed to play better, if we wanted to make the playoffs. So I focused on my role and responsibility down the stretch.”
After the season, Fletcher had another remarkable career-first, having his first surgical procedure to correct the nagging ankle.
Fletcher denies media reports from earlier in the offseason that suggested he was pondering retirement. As far as he was concerned, it was just a normal offseason in Washington.
“I don’t know why [my future] is getting a lot of press this year. I guess someone asked me the question and I expressed what my thought process was,” he said. “But if you asked me the same question four or five years ago, my answer would’ve been the same.
“I’ve been getting called ‘old man’ for six years. I’m just focusing on year-to-year. Once I knew I wanted to play, I decided to get the surgeries to focus on this year and play football the best I can play.”
Taking rehab slowly and eyeing a full return by training camp, Fletcher said he has no time or concerns for what happened in the past, as he is engrossed with his team’s potential this season.
“I’m still in the process of playing. You don’t really have the time to focus on what you did in the past,” he said. “It’s more about what I want to do in the future, what I want to accomplish. I still want to get better, challenge myself—not focus on the past.”
Fletcher has worked diligently with the Redskins’ training staff this offseason, reporting to every offseason workout and setting the tone for team commitment.
“The main challenge for me was that it was a different way to prepare for offseason workouts [with an injury],” he explained. “When you’ve played the game, you get into a routine, you get used to doing things at a certain time of the year.
“It was a different process for me. I was chomping at the bit to back into the weight room, to get back on the field, cutting, running, things that I have always done. So I wasn’t comfortable not being able to do the things that I’ve always done.
“Once I was physically cleared—meaning that there were no restrictions—it was easy for me to get back out here, because it was something I’m used to. Coach said I didn’t have to, but it’s what I do.”