Since signing in Washington in 2007, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has been a catalyst on defense, serving as captain for most of his tenure and being elected to four-straight Pro Bowls.
Like a fine wine, the All-Pro linebacker seems to have gotten better with age, or he has at least begun to get the recognition he deserved all along.
Fletcher started Sunday's Pro Bowl contest for the NFC team, tallying three tackles on defense and one on special teams.
It was the first that Redskins fans had seen him in action since the Wild Card game at FedExField, after which Fletcher announced that he would take time to consider his future and possible retirement.
Fletcher looked healthy, happy and refreshed on the field Sunday evening, playing with a light-hearted intensity that reflects his own true grit and the savvy of a Pro Bowl veteran.
All traces of a long playoff run had melted away, as Fletcher talked with NFL correspondent and former teammate Marshall Faulk.
"For me, this is my fourth time making it to the Pro Bowl, and I'm loving it," he said in a post-practice interview. "I appreciate coming out every year."
Fletcher reflected on the Redskins' improbable NFC East title, ranking it among the most exciting seasons of his 15-year career.
"It was very special," he said. "Besides winning the Super Bowl back in St. Louis, this was the most special season I've had, the most fun I've had.
"To start 3-6 and go on the seven-game win streak like we did, it was great."
Looking ahead to 2013, Fletcher has still not given any public indication for whether or not he intends to play. According to teammate and close personal friend Lorenzo Alexander, he hasn't told the team yet either.
"Fletch is not going to tell you anything. He's not going to let anyone know until right before OTA's start," Alexander said with a shrug. "It's something that he really has to think about with him and his family, and then make a decision.
"It's something that I tried to get out of him, something the coaches tried to get out of him, but he had his poker face on."
Alexander praised Fletcher's leadership, and has given him credit for easing his transition to inside linebacker this season.
While he intends to let his friend have every opportunity to consider his options and make a decision for the future, Alexander said he thinks Fletcher still has the itch to play.
"[Fletcher] has a lot of passion left in him, a lot of love for this game," he said. "Hopefully we have him back—we need him."