Redskins linebacker London Fletcher is headed home, but at this point in the NFL season that is of little concern to him.
Fletcher, a Cleveland native, will play in front of friends and family Sunday afternoon when Washington travels to Cleveland Browns Stadium for a critical late-season contest as the Redskins (7-6) fight for a playoff spot.
"To be going home, it's always special. Grew up a Browns fans so still like the Browns," Fletcher said. "But it's still just another game that we need to win. So I can't get caught up in any of that."
Easier said than done, of course. Fletcher played against the Browns during his days with the Buffalo Bills. But he never actually has played an NFL game in Cleveland -- the place he calls "home base" for his extended family. And while he only occasionally attended games at the old Municipal Stadium, Fletcher can recite the litany of devastating Browns losses like a true member of the Dawg Pound. So while he can say that the focus this week will be on football only, you know the game means more to him than just that.
"Just grew up disliking the Broncos, the Steelers, back then the Bengals -- all those teams that were rivals to us," Fletcher admitted. "Still remember 'The Drive,' 'The Fumble' -- all those different plays. I even remember [quarterback] Brian Sipe."
Sipe was the quarterback who threw a critical interception from the 13-yard line with less than a minute left in a 1980 AFC Divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders and his team down 14-12. Such losses sometimes seem to be the lot in life for Cleveland sports fans.
Fletcher played football and basketball at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High in Cleveland and eventually was a Division III football star at John Carroll University in nearby University Heights. He is a Cleveland guy through and through. But there is no time this week for such considerations. Fletcher was limited in practice Thursday with a left ankle injury but is, as always, still expected to play. But he also wouldn't take questions on his health.
"Nobody feels great at this point in time," Fletcher said. "But it's December football."
- Brian McNally