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Fletcher, Griffin III Still Enjoying Football

Posted Dec 8, 2013

Despite the team's elimination from the playoffs, two of the team's stars, in very different stages of their careers, are still enjoying the game this season.

For sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III and veteran linebacker London Fletcher, captains of their respective units, the current nine-loss campaign cannot hamper an enduring love of the game.

With the Washington Redskins officially eliminated from playoff contention, and back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1983-1984 no longer a possibility, focus has shifted to continuing to jell as a collective unit and play spoiler to other’s postseason aspirations, mainly the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Not since his freshman season at Baylor University, where he was handed the reins of a Big 12 team just months after graduating from high school, has Griffin III experienced a losing season. 

On Wednesday, he was asked at his weekly press conference if losing detracted from his passion for the sport.

His answer was simple: no.

“We knew we’re a better team than this and we’re not going out there and showing it, so that makes it a lot harder, but it’s still a fun game,” Griffin III emphatically responded to a media question. “You still get to go out there and do something that you’ve done your whole life and have fun doing it.

“Losing’s not fun. Everyone knows that, but at the end of the day, you still have to show up all ready to play and you just have to make a conscious effort to get better at whatever it is.”

Fletcher, now in his 16th season in the National Football League and gearing up to appear in his 253rd consecutive game dating back to 1998, agreed.

“The season hasn’t gone great for us we understand that,” told the media. “But we still have a responsibility to go out and play our best football. That’s just what our job calls for.”

It’s been a trying year for Griffin III, the 2012 NFL Draft No. 2 overall pick.

In January, he suffered a torn ACL and LCL in the waning minutes of the team’s first home playoff game in 13 years.

The coverage and speculation surrounding his surgery and recovery eclipsed even that of cross-town Nationals player Stephen Strasburg.

Determined to get his body in the appropriate shape and return to the gridiron, Griffin III spent countless hours in rehab and the gym in an effort to eliminate the possibility of physical letdowns when he returned.

Shortly after the team’s preseason finale, it was announced by Dr. James Andrews that Griffin III was cleared to fully return to action.

Despite the fact that he’s taken almost every snap this season, his numbers have slipped in comparison to this time last year after he set the bar far beyond that of the “typical” first-year starter.

While previous Redskins quarterbacks such as Joe Theismann and Mark Rypien grasped a share of national media attention during their playing days, none have had a stranglehold of the discussion that Griffin III has. 

Scrutiny has followed.

With only four games left this season, some have called for backup Kirk Cousins to make an appearance and, perhaps, shut down Griffin III for the remainder of the season to remove the risk of another injury.

As the starting quarterback, though, Griffin III said he refused to quit on his team despite knowing the end will happen when the final whistle blows Week 17 in New York.

Backing down in the face of adversity would be spineless.

“I think it would be real cowardly of me to check out and say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to play these next four games,’” Griffin III explained. “It’s not who I am. It’s not who any competitive football player is.

“You want to play, so we’re going to finish out the year and you take what’s happened this year, being 3-9, and you face it.”

While Griffin III will remain with the team past December, it’s this time of year where the elephant in the room appears—will London Fletcher hang it up?

Sunday will mark the 212th consecutive start for the former undrafted free agent out of John Carroll University.

At 38, the mileage is on the tires but the tread isn’t as worn as it usual is.

“I think it has [been easier],” Fletcher said of the season being kinder on his body physically this season. “Because I was able to get surgeries and I don’t have those nagging ailments I had where things just lingered on and on and on and just from that standpoint I feel better.

“It’s just looking at how I feel this time of this time of the year opposed to last year at the same time. I was hurting pretty bad last year.

“Last year in the offseason when I said I was going to come back and play I threw myself into my workouts and pushed myself beyond what [I thought] I would initially be able to do.”

Fletcher said he also still enjoys the tactical side of the game and receives pleasure out of gameplanning for Pro Bowl caliber opponents.

“What I enjoy from a challenge standpoint is each week is a new challenge that you face,” he explained. “Last week it was the Giants and their run game, this week it’s Jamaal Charles.

“A couple of weeks ago it was LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, things like that. That’s the thing that kind of keeps me going as I watch film and I’m looking at the different offenses that I face.

“One thing I’ve been able to do is I’ve never shied away from the work part of sports, whatever sport I was playing. Before football, basketball or just whatever the case may be, I’ve always been able to get myself ready to do the work and prepare and understand that it’s necessary if you want to be successful.”

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