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Rewarding Moments In Redskins History: Redskins Land London

Posted Mar 3, 2016

In today’s Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the Redskins signing free agent linebacker London Fletcher in 2007.

In today's Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the Redskins signing free agent linebacker London Fletcher in 2007.

Nine years ago, the Redskins began their free agency period with a bang when they signed linebacker London Fletcher to a five-year contract.

In fact, it began precisely at 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning, March 3, with Fletcher receiving a call from head coach Joe Gibbs and later defensive coordinator Gregg Williams at 3 a.m. welcoming him to the team.

The next day, Fletcher was in a suit fielding questions from reporters.

"This was the place I wanted to be," Fletcher said. "... It's one of the all-time great franchises in the history of the National Football League, and when I look at the roster, the coaches, the potential, I see and know this team is not far from returning to its glory days."

Fletcher was a nine-year NFL veteran at the time who had 146 tackles, four interceptions and two sacks the previous season in Buffalo.

At the time of his signing, Fletcher hadn’t missed a game in his career, which started with the Rams, and had tallied at least 116 tackles every season since 2000. He was also familiar with Williams’ defensive scheme, something that was attractive to the staff, which wanted a quarterback for the defense.

Though Fletcher was 32 at the time of the signing, and though he was only 5-foot-10, he transcended both limitations throughout his career.

"I think it's all about how you take care of yourself and how the coach takes care of you in practice," Fletcher said. "Age has never been an issue with me or a concern for me. I feel young and spry still. I feel confident I can play for many, many more years."

In an interview with Redskins.com a few months after he signed, Fletcher was still perplexed by the narrative surrounding his physical “limitations.”

"Size has never been an issue for me," he said. "I am surprised that it is still an issue, actually. When people write or say something about me, that's usually the first thing they mention--regardless of the fact that I have been in the league for nine seasons.

"Not only that, but I am a proven player and I have been a starting middle linebacker for two Super Bowls. The height concern I guess is something to create a story."

Fletcher would go on to become one of the greatest linebackers in Redskins history. He played seven seasons in Washington, the most of any of this three teams, and acquired 615 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 12 interceptions, including five during the 2012 season.

He retired after the 2013 season, never missing a game in his career.

In his 16 years in the league, he finished with 1,380 tackles, 39 sacks and 23 interceptions.

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For one of the few times in his life, wide receiver Art Monk was nervous before an NFL game.

On the eve of the Redskins’ Monday Night Football matchup with the Broncos at RFK Stadium, Monk knew he had the opportunity to break the NFL receptions record.

He wanted to get it out of the way, and so did the Redskins, who faced the Eagles the next week and wanted Monk’s attention, and the team’s attention, on their division rival.

For a moment, on that Oct.12 night, it looked as though the record would have to wait. The Redskins were crushing the Broncos and throwing the ball wasn’t particularly practical as the fourth quarter ran down. But head coach Joe Gibbs pressed on.

He called three pass plays in a row for the eventual Hall of Famer during a final fourth quarter drive.

The third pass was the record-setter, a 10-yard throw from Mark Rypien that Monk caught by the Broncos sideline with just more than three minutes left to play. The reception made history, pushing past Steve Largent, and Monk was quickly lifted into the air by his teammates to celebrate.

"I knew it was for the record. It was a play designed for me to catch," Monk said after the Redskins’ eventual 34-3 victory. "I'm glad it's over. I was nervous before the game--that's something I'm not used to. I was glad to be able to do it here."

With the game in hand, those that didn’t leave early for traffic were rewarded for their patience and roared for their wide receiver.

Monk finished the night with seven catches for 69 yards and would finish his career with 940 receptions, now 17th overall on the all-time receptions list in NFL history.

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