From undrafted to the Hall of Fame: London Fletcher’s resilience paved the way for a remarkable career
London Fletcher was an athletic freak.The 22-year-old linebacker was coming off of a season in which he was named the Division III National Linebacker of the Year after recording more than 200 tackles at Saint Francis University of Pennsylvania. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day and was primed to start his professional career. As for Fletcher, his career had its ups and downs. He wasn’t seen on a long shot from the blimp during a college football game and he was never a Heisman Trophy candidate or even on a Butkus Award watch list. He was a player who went to college to play basketball who didn’t even start playing football until late in his high school career.That may have resulted in him being undrafted, but looking back, Fletcher doesn’t mind. He enjoys telling his story and credits it with getting him to where he is today.”If I went to a Division I college and I played at Ohio State and I make the College Football Hall of Fame out of Ohio State, is it as exciting, is it Blimp Worthy with that?” Fletcher said. “If I played four years of high school football and didn’t have the transfers to the Division III’s and all that I don’t know that the story is the same, so … I would not change anything.” But Fletcher’s name was never called in the 1998 draft. The 5-10, 242-pound linebacker thought for sure he would at least be a second-day pick, but it wasn’t meant to be. He was going to have to start his career behind the eight-ball as he kind of always had to do in his football career. He doesn’t regret that, though.”That was a time for me having to persevere and work harder,” Fletcher told Omnisport in association with Goodyear’s ‘Headed to the Hall’ sweepstakes. “Yeah, I’m discouraged, but when I look at all of the things that I’ve accomplished at the collegiate level and they don’t draft me, so am I going to dog it out and work harder and persevere or am I going to cave in? And I decided to (work harder) and that’s why I’m going to the College Football Hall of Fame.”Fletcher is not the only player who went undrafted and still succeeded in the NFL. Guys like Kurt Warner, Dick “Night Train” Lane and Warren Moon were all overlooked and had amazing careers. Fletcher is no different. The now 44 year old signed with the Rams after the draft and started his first game as a rookie while playing in 16 and then became St. Louis’ full-time starter in 1999. He then won a Super Bowl in 2000, played in another in 2001 and went on to play in 256 consecutive games for the Rams, Bills and Redskins. He started 215 straight.He went to four Pro Bowls in his career and is one of five players in NFL history to play in at least 250 games in a row. Fletcher will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year alongside the Goodyear Blimp which will receive an honorary induction and be the first non-player or coach to enter the Hall of Fame. Fletcher actually took a ride in the blimp alongside his old coach, Mike Moran, to commemorate the induction.To mark the blimp’s honorary induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, Goodyear is launching the “Headed to the Hall” sweepstakes to give one lucky fan and guest a chance to win a VIP hall of fame experience. The prize includes a private tour of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, tickets to the 2019 Peach Bowl, access to the College Football Hall of Fame suite at the game, a chance to meet with hall of famers and a ride inside the iconic Goodyear Blimp. Visit www.HeadedToTheHall.com to enter through Nov. 7.