Shanahan customarily is less effusive than Haslett. He has been known to instruct assistants to push players while withholding praise, believing that makes them try harder. Even Shanahan, though, has made his feelings known about Fletcher, whom he considers possibly the greatest leader on any team under him.
Setting an example was not something Fletcher set out to do, he said. He definitely doesn’t crave the spotlight. He’s not working from a script.
Throughout his first 13 seasons in the NFL, Fletcher just continued the approach he has had as long as he could remember, “and it’s really just . . . a sense of responsibility to do the right things. It’s about being accountable.
“I always want to try to make sure I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. You have a lot of different types of leaders. I try to also be a vocal leader as well, because there are situations where you have to be vocal. At the same time, you have to back it up [with your play]. If you don’t, guys won’t respect what you’re saying.”
No worries there.
Selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl last season, Fletcher, 36, continues to rank among the league leaders in tackles. Remarkably, the next game Fletcher misses will be his first.
With 208 consecutive games played, Fletcher is tied with Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning and Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber for the NFL’s longest current streak. Fletcher’s 167 straight starts rank behind only Manning (208) and Barber (183).
At a time when most players are well into their retirement, Fletcher remains one of the game’s best linebackers. He has a $4.9 million base salary and a cap number of $7.1 million in the final season of a $25 million contract, and his intention is to continue playing after this season.
Eventually, Fletcher won’t fit with Washington’s ongoing youth movement under Shanahan. There soon will come a time when Fletcher and the Redskins will move on separately. For now, though, Snyder’s team still has his best free agent.