3 Reasons London Fletcher Will Be in the Hall of Fame
No, he has never been a MVP. You won't see Defensive Player of the Year on his bio.
Look even further into Fletcher's past and you won't even see what round he was selected in, since he went undrafted in 1998.
It won't happen on the first ballot and most likely not on the second. But just like Art Monk's recognition was long overdue, London Fletcher will have his day in Canton.
Here are three reasons why the 37-year-old out of John Carroll University will end up in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.
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Over his 14-year career, London Fletcher has been the model for consistency. He currently is tied for the active lead for most consecutive games played by a positional player (but who really counts kickers?!).
At 224 consecutive starts, Fletcher is tied with Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, Fletcher trails Barber in active consecutive starts at 199 to 179.
While Barber's accomplishments are noteworthy, Fletcher's deserve even more recognition due to the position he plays. At his inside linebacker or middle linebacker spot, the former college point guard is taking a beating on every play.
The trajectory for a running back's career in the NFL is significantly shortened because of the amount of punishment they have to endure each game. The same can be side with middle linebackers, especially in the concussion-conscious league of today.
The only linebacker to crack the top ten in all-time consecutive starts is the immortal Derrick Brooks at 208. If London Fletcher remains injury-free for the duration of his current contract, he will pass Brooks by two games, placing him on the list at seventh all time.
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London Fletcher doesn't have the interception or sack totals that jump off of a page at you, but he has been one of the most productive defensive players in the league since the turn of the century.
Lewis, the same age as Fletcher even though he broke into the league two years earlier, has only played in a full 16 game season eight times in his career. Fletcher has played a full season 12 out of 14 seasons in the league.
Let's take a closer look at their career stats side-by-side from NFL.com:
|Combined Tackles||Solo Tackles||Assits||Sack||INT||FF|
While tackles weren't officially a recorded stat until 2001, it's clear that throughout his career, London Fletcher has been a tackling machine. What is also clear is that he never played on a defensive powerhouse like Ray Lewis has.
The Baltimore Ravens have been an elite defense for over a decade now. While they've had some years less productive than others, every team goes up against the Ravens game planning against their great defense.
Early in his career, Fletcher and his Rams' defensive squad played second fiddle to the greatest show on turf. From 2002-2006, Fletcher suffered an ailment that will soon undermine Mario Williams and that is having to play for the Buffalo Bills.
Fletcher would have to wait until his time in DC to be officially recognized for his playing abilities by selection to the Pro Bowl.
'What ifs' will never get any player into the Hall of Fame, but just imagine how productive Fletcher could have been if he had the same supporting cast Ray Lewis has enjoyed over his storied career.
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You'd be hard-pressed to find a better person in the NFL's history than London Fletcher. Fletcher is a three-time finalist for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award (as many nominations as Pro Bowl appearances and yet probably the bigger snub).
This year, Fletcher won the Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award for outstanding character and leadership on the field and in the community. Past winners include Darrell Green, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner and Reggie White.
Fletcher has contributed off-the-field with his involvement in, "the Redskins’ Harvest Feast, the “Stuff a Backpack” School Supply Drive, The Children’s Inn and visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in addition to starting his own non-profit in 2003, London's Bridge Foundation.
The Ohio based non-profit helps underprivileged and underrepresented youth in his hometown Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, DC; Buffalo, NY and Charlotte, NC.
The foundation helps children through mentoring and charitable programs to instill the core values of good citizenship and public service by building a foundation for, "standards of education, leadership, teamwork, health and fitness."
Fletcher is one of the rare athletes in today's NFL that doesn't worry fans and the organization when they're off the field. His integrity and humility are things that Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen hope are contagious. For the 2012 season, rookie franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III's locker has been placed directly next to London Fletcher's.
Fletcher has been mentoring youths off the field since 2003 and the Washington Redskins hope he can successfully mentor the leader of the team's youth movement in RGIII.
Many voters may not see London Fletcher as Hall of Fame worthy soon after his retirement and there will be plenty of detractors when he eventually gets elected. But one thing no one can argue is that London Fletcher is a hall of fame person which is something the sports world could use more of.
For more on the London's Bridge Foundation, please visit londonsbridge.org.
For more by Scott and his cohorts, check out The Recap.