Be like Mike Has Meaning for Fletcher

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 26, 2000 | Go to article overview

Be like Mike Has Meaning for Fletcher


ATLANTA - London Fletcher's face lit up at the very mention of Mike Singletary.

"Yeah," said the Rams middle linebacker, "that's who I am on the football field."

Well, not quite. Not yet. Fletcher is finishing his second season in the NFL, while Singletary is finishing his second year in the Hall of Fame.

So Fletcher has a long way to go before he is Singletary, but it's certainly an sizable goal to have.

"He was a short guy, too," said Fletcher, who is even shorter than the supposedly undersized Singletary was. "I loved the way he played, his approach, the fire he played with."

The height issue was the reason I asked Fletcher whether he grew up admiring Singletary. Both had to overcome doubts based on the fact they are less than 6 feet tall.

"I used to think I was Mike Singletary against the Green Bay Packers," Fletcher said.

Fletcher reminds me of when Singletary came into the league, even as a Bears second-round draft choice whereas Fletcher was an undrafted free agent.

Singletary would have been a first-round pick if he were taller. Fletcher would have been drafted, maybe in the middle rounds, if he were taller. But they both made it all the way to the Super Bowl, Singletary with the '85 Bears and Fletcher with the '99 Rams.

The size issue doesn't seem to bother Fletcher anymore, if it ever seriously did. He has proven himself to be an NFL player, a good one, a starter on a conference championship team.

That's quite an accomplishment for somebody who didn't play football until his senior year of high school, went to college at St. Francis (Pa.) on a basketball scholarship, and transferred to Division III John Carroll to play football.

Funny how things work. St. Francis is the alma mater of Norm Van Lier, who played basketball for the Bulls as intensely and intelligently as Singletary played football for the Bears.

Because of Fletcher's height and small-college experience, he had to talk NFL teams into giving him tryouts. …

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