When Ray Lewis announced Wednesday that this will be his last NFL season, a discussion ensued in the Washington Redskins’ locker room. The subject of the Baltimore Ravens legend’s retirement led to talk about Redskins linebacker London Fletcher.
“Guys were like, you could argue Fletch has had a better career,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Might not have had all the hype and things like that, but if I’m starting a team, I love Ray Lewis to death, but if I’m starting a team, I’m taking 59 every day of the week.”
It’s a hard argument to make in most corners. Lewis is a seven-time first-team All-Pro and was selected for the Pro Bowl 13 times during his career. Fletcher has never been a first-team All-Pro and has three Pro Bowls on his resume.
But Hall’s point, even as he praised Lewis to the heavens, was that Fletcher hasn’t gotten deserved recognition over the years.
“Ray’s made it sexy to be a middle linebacker in this National Football League,” Hall said. “In a league that’s so offensive-driven, it’s hard to kind of get that buzz. It took Fletch 12 years to actually get to a Pro Bowl even those his numbers kind of justified he should’ve been there already.”
Fletcher has 1,685 career tackles to Lewis’ 1,336, according to NFL.com stats. Fletcher also has the active NFL record for consecutive games played at 240.
Fletcher (1999 St. Louis Rams) and Lewis (2000 Ravens) were both starting linebackers on Super Bowl-champion teams.
On Thursday Fletcher was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December. But the buzz around the league is about Lewis, who expects Sunday’s AFC wild card game against the Colts to be his final one with the Ravens in Baltimore.
The next step for Lewis after his career is over will be to waltz into the Hall of Fame. Hall commended Lewis and ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks for not only being great but changing the way fans see defensive players.
“When you don’t play a sexy position or you don’t approach it as a corner where you get to make more plays on the ball and things like that, it’s kind of tough. It’s kind of tough to break through that wall,” Hall said. “Ray has definitely broken through that wall. He’ll definitely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. One of the greatest players to ever play that position.”