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Fletcher Deserved Pro Bowl Recognition, Too


Once again, London Fletcher is on the outside and looking in, in terms of Pro Bowl recognition.

Fletcher is listed as a second alternate at middle linebacker for the Feb. 8 AFC-NFC all-star game in Honolulu.

Something's wrong if a player with the combination of skills, experience and determination of Fletcher can't make the Pro Bowl.

That's been the case since 1998. Ever since, the 5-10, 245-pound Fletcher has been roaming from sideline to sideline for St. Louis, Buffalo and the Redskins.

This year, Fletcher has once again been a tackling machine for the Redskins. He leads the club with 125 tackles (77 solo) and is tied with most tackles for a loss with five. He has also posted a half-sack, six QB hurries, seven passes defended and two forced fumbles.

A look at Fletcher's career stats suggest that he should have earned a Pro Bowl berth or two at some point in the last decade.

He has 10 straight years of over 100 tackles and had compiled 1,674 in his career. In 2002, his first season in Buffalo, Fletcher registered a career-high 209 tackles.

What's more, since 2000, London Fletcher has brought down more running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks than any player in the game. He has 1,229 tackles this decade; second best is Zach Thomas of Dallas with 1,177 stops.

If that doesn't sound Pro Bowl worthy, what does?

How about this: Fletcher, who has 125 tackles this season, has started 133 consecutive games, sixth-best in the NFL. The list includes: Brett Favre 267 straight starts), Derrick Brooks (206), Jon Runyan (190), Peyton Manning (174), Ronde Barber (149) and Fletcher.

Every year, or so it seems, there's an oversight involving a Redskins defensive player. It has been Shawn Springs or Cornelius Griffin in years past and this year it's Fletcher.

The Redskins' defense is ranked fifth overall, 10th against the run and sixth against the pass, and not one player from the unit this year is Pro Bowl bound?

Fletcher is the consummate leader, too. His greatest strength is serving as the quarterback of the defense, making adjustments at the line of scrimmage and putting himself and his teammates in position to make plays.

Now you could make a case that this is not Fletcher's best season and that the Redskins have stumbled after a 6-2 start.

But you really can't argue that there's justification in shutting out Fletcher every time since 1998.

San Francisco's Patrick Willis and Carolina's Jon Beason represent the NFC at middle linebacker this year. Both are worthy choices, but not necessarily more worthy than Fletcher.

Willis has 121 tackles, one sack, 10 passes defended and an interception he returned 86 yards for a touchdown. Beason has 122 tackles, seven passes defended and three interceptions.

This year, down the stretch, Fletcher has been playing with a foot injury that would shelve most players.

He played with a badly sprained left foot versus the Giants on Week 13 and responded with a team-high 14 tackles in a game the Redskins dropped 23-7.

That Fletcher was even able to show up and play that afternoon was inspirational.

He should have earned serious Pro Bowl consideration league-wide for that effort in and of itself, let alone what he has been able to accomplish in the NFL over the past 11 seasons.

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