Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at email@example.com.
London Fletcher Preferring To Enjoy Hawaii, Mum On Future With Redskins
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii – There were two questions London Fletcher was asked most often when he made his way toward a sea of fans lining the edge of a converted football field.
The first was some type of variation on an autograph request, which came frequently for those gathered for the first Pro Bowl practice ever held on an active military base. The second was whether Fletcher would return to the Washington Redskins.
“I hope so,” the inside linebacker continued to answer, often with a smile and a chuckle.
What more could he say? Fletcher has insisted for the past several weeks, ever since the Redskins finished this past season with a dismal 5-11 record, that he wants to continue to play for the team he’s been with for the past five years. The burgundy and gold gloves he wore during the practice may have been an mild hint toward that.
But when confronted specifically with the question, Fletcher preferred more to relish the moment. There’s no time for serious questions with serious implications – not when he and 42 of the best players in the NFC were hamming it up at Earhart Field, which, with its brick-colored track, would have resembled a high school field if not for the fighter planes parked at one end.
“It feels great,” Fletcher said. “To be a Pro Bowler again is something I don’t take for granted. I love this.”
The trip to Hawaii was as roundabout as it has been for Fletcher, who led the NFL with 166 tackles this past season. Once again amongst the alternates, as he has been for the past nine seasons, Fletcher made his third trip to the Pro Bowl in as many years after Chicago’s Brian Urlacher was forced out because of a knee injury.
“You know, I don’t get caught up in too much,” Fletcher said, regarding his status as an alternate. “I mean, sure, I feel like I’ve deserved to be here many more times, but it is what it is.”
None of that was more apparent than at the practice, an hour-long session that appeared more show than serious. The yearly game, to be played Sunday at nearby Aloha Stadium, is, like any other all-star game, rarely taken seriously.
Fletcher laughed with some of his teammates and helped rag on others. But yet his competitive nature shone through on one snap, when he started barking out calls as he read the top offense’s play.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers then lofted a pass to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham in the back right of the end zone, beating Seattle safety Earl Thomas, leading Fletcher to shake his head and confer with members of the Green Bay coaching staff, which is leading the NFC team, about what to do better on the play.
Fletcher’s instincts, and his playmaking ability, have been among the chief reasons that the Redskins would like him to return. Head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett each said near the end of the season that bringing back Fletcher is among the team’s top priorities this offseason.
“He is a priority for us,” Shanahan said the day after the season ended. “I’d love to have him back, and hopefully he’ll be back and part of our organization for years to come.”
But as Fletcher said, that will come later. He didn’t bring his son and daughter with him to Hawaii, but his wife, Charne, and five other friends and family members did make the trip out west with him.
That has provided him with plenty of time to do what he wanted to: “Just relax.”
“I love it, man,” Fletcher said. “To be out here, you know, amongst these guys and to get to know some of them in a different atmosphere is great.”