One of Washington’s greatest leaders since its Super Bowl days, Fletcher isn’t interested in assessing his impact during the most tumultuous four-year stretch in franchise history. The rock of the Redskins’ locker room doesn’t seek public pats on the back and “atta-boys,” so he would rather change the subject.
Still, what Fletcher has done for the Redskins is worth noting.
“No matter what we’ve been through, no matter what problems we’ve faced on or off the field, that guy has kept everybody calm and together,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “Fletch, he quiets the storm. Really, with some of the things that have happened, I don’t even want to think about how stuff could have been different if Fletch wasn’t around.”
The Redskins have signed players with higher profiles than Fletcher’s. Snyder has spent much more money on free agents with better résumés. But never has he spent as wisely as he did when acquiring Fletcher, whose combination of production and leadership has been unmatched among players lured to Washington.
Since Fletcher joined the Redskins before the 2007 season, he has been almost as busy helping to put out fires as he has been making plays. His performance has prompted praise from whomever occupied the head coach’s chair and every defensive coordinator. Although the names of those in charge have changed frequently, management’s positive view of Fletcher remains constant.
He came, in large part, in hopes of resuming his successful partnership with onetime Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, whose guidance helped Fletcher grow as a player when they were together in Buffalo. Fletcher had only one season here with Williams, once considered Washington’s head-coach-in-waiting, but Fletcher also developed strong bonds with those who followed Williams.
After Sean Taylor was slain during the 2007 season, Fletcher shouldered a lot privately and publicly. Fletcher also was one of the veterans who demanded the Redskins maintain focus on their work, and Washington earned its third playoff appearance in Snyder’s 12 seasons as owner.
Players listened to Fletcher as the team experienced a 2-6 second-half slide in 2008, keeping most of their frustration within the locker room. A bad situation likely would have been worse, players say, without Fletcher’s firm guidance.
Then there was the chaos of the entire 2009 season. Fletcher encouraged everyone to maintain as much professionalism as possible.
Fletcher was tested again in 2010 as the team struggled to overcome the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth distractions. Again, Fletcher stressed team unity, and his teammates followed.
“I’m very humbled they feel that way about me,” Fletcher said. “It’s not something I take for granted.”