London Fletcher was among the last players to leave the Redskins’ locker room after Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Cowboys.
He lingered for nearly an hour, chitchatting with appreciative teammates and talking to a relative who was sporting a Pro Bowl jersey with ‘Fletcher’ across the shoulders. He also posed for photos in front of his locker stall with his three young children.
And who could blame him for soaking it all in?
Fletcher announced earlier in the week that this season, in all likelihood, will mark the end of his distinguished 16-year NFL career. Which made Sunday’s game his last in front of the home fans at FedEx Field, the building he's called home for the past seven seasons.
The crowd gave him a standing ovation when his name was announced during introductions. He got another rousing round of applause as he walked off the turf one last time.
“They were really the emotions I had all week,” Fletcher said after the game. “As much as I tried to make this a normal game and a normal week, it wasn’t. I really had to curb my emotions throughout the week.”
Fletcher said he’s received a warm reception all over town since making his announcement on Wednesday.
“People bought me lunch and all kinds of stuff over at Jackson’s [restaurant] in Reston, so I’ll give them a shout out," he said. "They picked up my tab.”
Fletcher, who extended his iron man streak to 255 consecutive games, made one solo tackle and assisted on five in the loss, the Redskins' seventh in a row.
He also said he won’t soon forget how Sunday’s defeat unfolded.
“Man, I thought we had it,” Fletcher said. “If you think about it, it was fourth-and-10. What better way would there have been for me personally to end my career than with a defensive stand on the goal line? You have to give Tony Romo credit. …But I love this team. I love the way we fought today. We just came up a little bit short.”
Fletcher’s teammates were disappointed they could not send him off with a win.
“I think everybody went out there with a full heart,” wide receiver Santana Moss said. “We will always remember London for being a standup guy and for being a beast for 16 years. I don’t know how he did it for 16 years. He’s going to be someone that you just can’t replace. At the end of the day, I think everybody went out there and left everything on the field. We still came up short.”
Fletcher, 38, will play his final game next Sunday in the Meadowlands against the Giants.
“I can’t imagine [next week] being much tougher than this week, just because this was the last time I get to wear the burgundy and gold in front of fans here," he said. "Next week, it will be emotional. But I think this one was more emotional because it was the last time I get to play in front in front of the home crowd.”
-- Tarik El-Bashir, CSNWashington.com
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