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Left Off Pro Bowl, Fletcher Keeps His Spirit High


Forgive London Fletcher if he has a rooting interest in the postseason this year.

Fletcher was beaten out for the Pro Bowl at middle linebacker by Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers and Jonathan Vilma of the New Orleans Saints.

Fletcher, a first alternate this year, said he is hoping the Saints make it to the Super Bowl. That way Vilma would have to back out of the Pro Bowl, which is played a week before the Super Bowl this year.

And that would--finally--give Fletcher the Pro Bowl berth everyone agrees he deserves.

"I'm a huge New Orleans fan," Fletcher said on Wednesday, drawing laughter from the assembled media. "I'll send Gregg Williams a text saying, 'I'm a huge New Orleans fan. Congratulations Vilma. Go Saints.'"

Fletcher, a 12-year NFL veteran, was left off the Pro Bowl squad despite proving himself as one of the game's top linebackers and hard-nosed players time and again.

He has played in 191 consecutive games, second behind only Brett Favre among active players, and started 150 consecutive games, fourth among active players.

He has posted 100 tackles each of the last 11 seasons, including the last three with the Redskins, and his 1,378 tackles this decade is the most of any defensive player.

This season, Fletcher leads the Redskins' defense with 164 tackles (102 solo) and has two sacks, one interceptions and one forced fumble.

It wasn't enough to warrant a Pro Bowl nod, though.

A year ago, Fletcher was clearly upset when he was a Pro Bowl snub.

This year, Fletcher was calmer.

"I'm a first alternate, and I'm still considered one of the top middle linebackers in the game, and that's all you can ask for," Fletcher said.

Asked about last year, Fletcher replied: "Yeah I was extremely disappointed last year, but as I think back, I have to thank God for all that He has given me. There are good players who aren't even alternates this year. As a first alternate, I'm one step away from being in the game.

"You just have to still appreciate all the things you have had. Obviously, if we had won more ball games, it would have helped my cause."

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has often commented that Fletcher does not get the credit he deserves because he is not a flashy player who draws attention to himself. Instead, Blache says Fletcher is the consummate, team-first professional.

Fletcher would not change his approach to the game, though.

"Early in my career when I was in St. Louis, I did some things that drew attention to myself," he said. "But as I got older, I've grown to be more respectful of the game. That's just not in my nature anymore. I can't waste the energy...I feel good about the way I have carried myself on the field."

Fletcher praised the Redskins' lone Pro Bowl representative, rookie Brian Orakpo.

"You see Brian and he's extremely humble--you appreciate that about him. He has come in here and he has done it the right way. He's very respectful. He pays attention in the meetings and he wants to get better each and every week."

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