ASHBURN, Va. – London Fletcher says he gets his bell rung perhaps twice a game. He’s played in 240 games in a row, not counting preseason and playoffs.
Do the math, and it adds up. The Washington Redskins linebacker has seen a lot of stars.
“I play inside linebacker and I like to play it physical,” Fletcher said Thursday. “So, I don’t know, it can happen a couple of times a game, but I wouldn’t classify them as concussions; they’re just, you know, bell-ringing. You’ll see stars for a second, and then you’re back to normal in two, three seconds, whatever the case may be. That’s just the way the game is.”
The 38-year-old Fletcher, who has never missed a game in 16 NFL seasons, is decidedly old-school. In a profile in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, he reveals that he suffered a concussion last preseason that he and the team kept secret from the public.
“I’m not going to tell an opponent about anything that I’ve got going on, so it’s just the way I am,” Fletcher told reporters in the Redskins locker room. “You play football, you have things that bother you all the time. If I go around telling you all everything that’s bothering me, you’d be writing a story every day.”
So what was suspected was true. When coach Mike Shanahan said Fletcher was “not feeling right” and kept evading follow-up questions, it turned out that the linebacker did get a concussion when he was hit by a teammate while defending a pass in the preseason opener in August 2012 against the Buffalo Bills. Fletcher stayed in the game a few more plays before telling trainers he was feeling dizzy, and he missed the next preseason game.
Teams are not required to issue regular injury reports during preseason.
What Fletcher didn’t tell the trainers was that he was dealing with a byproduct from the concussion well into the regular season.
He was over the actual concussion, but something still wasn’t right with his head.
It wasn’t until he had a hamstring injury in October that Fletcher told the team about his “balance” issues. It turned out to be problem in his neck that was resolved easily.
Fletcher said he hasn’t “taken the time” to count all of his concussions, including maybe one or two he’s had while playing pickup basketball.
He’s fully aware of concussion-related lawsuits filed by former NFL players, so he knows what he’s up against once he’s retired.
“I signed up for this,” he said. “Nobody makes me play this game.”