On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, Redskins LB London Fletcher addressed the media following afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va.
On his announcement:
"I wanted to look at this opportunity to let the fans know that this will more than likely be my last season in the National Football League. With this being the final home game, I wanted to definitely get an opportunity to say goodbye to the burgundy and gold faithful. The fans at FedEx have been so graceful to me since my seven years here in Washington. Again, I'm about 99 percent certain that this will be my last season in the National Football League. I've got to leave at least one percent just in case I change my mind, but it's really just about having another conversation with my wife. But I just thought with this being the final home game, this being Dallas Cowboy week, an opportunity to go out in a bang, get the fans riled up, say thank you to them and beat the Cowboys. What better way to end it?"
On when the 99 percent would turn into 100 percent:
"Well, you know I want to put on a nice suit when I go to that 100 percent [smiling]. But again, coming into the season, I was probably at about 90 percent, so I guess the nine percent has come since the season's began. Really just looking at last year and our run, where I thought the state of the franchise was, I didn't feel like my work was done here just yet. But as this season has gone, I really wanted to help [linebacker] Perry Riley develop a little bit more. I think he's at that point where Perry doesn't need me anymore. He's that player that I know he can be. I wanted to still do some things as far as getting the franchise where I wanted it to be. Really, I think what every player wants to do is leave a legacy, and that's really what I wanted to do as a player. Why I came back one more year was more about a legacy, nothing about anything more I could accomplish because I've played in two Super Bowls, had the fortune of winning one then losing one, I've been to the Pro Bowls and all that, but just wanted to continue to help with the legacy."
On this season and if he thinks his work here is done:
"The way I look at it is totally different, and I've thought about this and contemplate this a lot. You know thinking about – obviously with the last couple of weeks with everything that's happened with the whole speculations and everybody throwing their hat into what they may or may not think is going to happen with Coach Shanahan and the team after this season's over with. The way I look at it, I think Coach Shanahan is a great coach. Any player who's played for him, most guys – probably 95 percent of the guys who've played for him – would love playing for him. And as I look at the current situation I think Coach Shanahan is definitely the right guy, I think Mr. Snyder would be wise to let him see this thing through. Obviously there's going to have to be some changes made because when you're – right now, we've won three ball games and even if we win these next two we will have five games – so there is change that needs to take place, but I don't think it needs to be with the head coach. I feel like he's the right guy for it. I think Coach Shanahan will have to have a conversation with Mr. Snyder at the end of the year. Let them get some time, maybe a week or two, let the season get past them and let them two just get into a room and really say, 'Hey, what's the situation? How do we move forward? How do we get this thing right?' One of the things that hasn't happened around here in Washington since Mr. Snyder's owned this football team, there's been no stability at the head coach position. You're talking about I think now on the seventh head coach in what 14 years, I think, since he's owned the team? Sometimes when I look at and study the winning franchises, the perennial winning franchises –talking about New England, Pittsburgh, teams like that, Green Bay, even Baltimore now – they have a sense of stability. They have a plan that they have, they stick with it. And I think with this being said, Coach Shanahan is the right guy. He's going to have to – you can't stay status quo in every area of your football team. They'll have money to spend this offseason, which you'll have some personnel changes. That's just the National Football League. He'll address every situation and go from there. I also think it'll be hard to do with just one year left on his deal. You're looking at a coach as a one-year deal, I mean most people would be like, 'Is he a lame duck?' I think he should extend him, as crazy as that may sound, but I think you extend him to let him continue to build this thing the right way."
On if he would be still be retiring if the team was winning:
"Yeah, it has nothing to do with me personally. Again, I feel like I've accomplished everything I can accomplish in the National Football League from a player's standpoint. Obviously everybody wants to go out like Ray Lewis with the Super Bowl parade and winning the Super Bowl. That would be great to go out, but it wasn't in the cards for me if this is it. But it's more again about trying to leave a legacy and putting some seeds in place and hopefully they'll grow and fester years down the road and I can be proud of this organization, this franchise that I've played for. That's really how I look at it."
On the one percent that would bring him back and at what point he hit 90 percent:
"It was, you know really and I've shared this with you all in the past, for probably about the last four or five years, I've always thought about retirement and what do I want to do. I wanted to do some other things in life, because I think in order for me at least, in order to do it at the level that I've been able to do it, it takes a lot of commitment and a lot of sacrifice. Whether it's just time spent on training and meetings and watching extra film and all of the things that I've been able to do and I do it and I've enjoyed doing it but I've missed a lot of other parts of my life. I've got three young children, so they're back in Charlotte so I'm missing parts of their life with them growing up. So that comes into play, where I'm talking to my wife and she's telling me about different things that the kids are doing. Just talking to them and when I get a chance to see them, it was really – as they've gotten older and started to do a little bit more things – it's like I think this will probably be it. I also look at it, this being my seventh year in Washington, biblically speaking the number seven marks completion so you know for me I feel like my work is done here in Washington. And if that one percent does come, I don't know man, maybe I'll do a [return from retirement like linebacker Junior] Seau or something."
On what his life will be like without football:
"I think it'll be great. Again, I have a beautiful wife, three beautiful, awesome children – six, five and three – they're just starting to do their things. My son, he loves football. My daughter she's involved in gymnastics and some of the other things. My youngest, she's just a character. She has a great personality and just that part of it. I'll probably look to get into some broadcasting and different things like that. I love the game of football. Even right now, for me the happiest times I have, the most enjoyment I have in a game week is when I'm alone by myself and I'm with my video and I'm looking at the iPad, I'm looking at the film, and I'm dissecting the opponent. Just really, that's when I'm at my happiest because now I'm in my comfort. I'm in an area that I love being in. So football is always in my blood. You just never know what it'll hold down the road for me, but I'll always be around this game of football."
On if he thinks he's a Hall of Famer:
"[Laughs] I think that's for somebody else to decide. I don't have a vote on that type of stuff. David [Elfin], you've got a vote don't you? You'll have to ask David. When that time comes, I think as you look at all the middle linebackers who've been in the National Football League selected to the Hall of Fame or elected to the Hall of Fame, when you compare me and compare them I think it'll definitely leave for more debate [laughs]."
On his process of making this decision:
"Again, I've still got one percent left [laughs]. You know, the reason why I'm doing it now is because this is more than likely going to be the last time I'm able to put on that burgundy and gold and run through that tunnel at FedEx and say thank you to the fans. And it's against the Cowboys. It's a lot. The last time we were in FedEx, I was embarrassed with the way we performed as a football team and I just – and there's not many times on a football field where I've felt embarrassed as a team, as a player. What we put on display against Kansas City, that hurt me to my core. So with this, I want our fans to be riled up, I want it to be a special occasion, I want us to get that win. I want to leave with great memories."
On if he thinks his streak of consecutive games is his legacy:
"Obviously, that's a part of my legacy. That's the thing that's talked about most because when you look at it, it's hard for me to really grasp it because I'm still in the midst of it. Really the way I've approached it is to go about my business, being accountable and not wanting to let my teammates down and the coaching staff. I've always wanted to be able to be there for them and know that they can count on me. And even prove doubters wrong when there's a little knick or bump and they think, 'Hey, is this going to be the end of the streak?' or whatever the case may be, to be able to say I'm tough enough to get through this. So I'm sure the consecutive games are definitely a part of my legacy. But I think as time goes past and people are really able to look at my career as a whole, you'll see what type of player that I was as well."
On memorable moments in Washington:
"There are several memories. You're talking about seven seasons here. My first season here, obviously that was the year Sean Taylor passed, so the dynamics of that, dealing with that, the emotions of that – when we took the field with 10 guys on the field just as a tribute to Sean. Playing and losing that game, but then going on the run that we were able to go on in that '07 season to make it into the playoffs… Last year was very special to me. When you look at where we were at – at one point 3-6, you know everybody had written us off and to be able to get on that run and I thought the way we rallied around each other as a team – just the attention to detail, the focus, how guys really just locked in, the way Coach Shanahan managed the team and stood in front of them and really mapped out the plan that we were going to go on to win those seven games. When it came into fruition, that feeling when we beat the Cowboys at that 16th game of the season, that last game of the season, and finally our goal was achieved, just the moment, the excitement, the euphoria we felt as a football team to know we had done something really special… So that stands out as well."
On how much harder it was to play at his age this year:
"I think just with the way I train myself, that part the last four or five years really hasn't been that much of a difference. I think I felt better this year because of the injuries, surgeries I've had. Last year, I was dealing with an ankle, elbow things like that in the last few years, different things. Really, Sundays is no problem – you get to the game, you have that adrenaline. Throughout the week they do a great job of managing me, trying to limit my reps in practice and stuff like that. I still know I can go out and make plays, that's not the issue. So this year really wasn't any harder, physically."
On how hard it is to accept that age eventually wins out:
"Well, I'm not 28, I'm 38, and I understand that. When you play, age is going to take away some of the things from you – especially when you're talking about a physical game or something that requires physical ability. But you do adjustments to combat that, whether it's in my alignment, things like that you figure out ways to combat that, so that's the part you adjust to. But from a competitive standpoint, things like that, I think you still have to go out and compete whether you're a young guy and you can run a 4.3 or whatever, that doesn't mean you're going to go out and do the job better than I am."
On his impression of quarterback Robert Griffin III and his advice for his future:*
"Robert has – he's come in with a tremendous amount of pressure when you talk about being a Heisman Trophy winner, so many draft picks they gave up to get him. This is an organization that hasn't had a franchise quarterback for over 20 years so the amount of expectations that he had coming in and the way he performed last year, he exceeded the expectations leading us to the playoffs. And really, I don't think he really changed his approach. There are a lot of people that pulls and tugs at him, but I think really this a time for him to just kind of exhale. If you look at it at the end of the year, he hurt himself, he didn't have a chance to really exhale. This is a time for him to exhale, take a step back, reevaluate different things and say, 'Hey, what do I need to get to be the player that he knows he can, be the player that everybody knows he can be?' That would be my advice for him. Really just take some time to clear his head and really decompress from everything that's happened because he's really been on a whirlwind if you think about it since his senior year at Baylor, or his last year at Baylor."