Pro Bowl 2012: Where is London Fletcher?

Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots is tackled by London Fletcher (59) of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots is tackled by London Fletcher (59) of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) NFL Pro Bowls, like NBA and MLB All-Star games, are generally popularity contests. So there's little to be gained from wasting too much time arguing about who was most deserving and who was snubbed.

But with one guy - London Fletcher - the perennial question must be asked: Why was he ignored again?

Yes, Fletcher has made the trip to Hawaii the past two years - but as an alternate for injured starters. And this year, once again, he will be an alternate after failing to earn the starting nod from votes cast by players, coaches and fans.

Nearing the end of his 14th season, Fletcher is in a familiar spot — leading the league in tackles and Pro Bowl snubs.

Fletcher once called himself "the Susan Lucci of the NFL" because his reliability and productivity had yet to be rewarded with a Pro Bowl nod. He has the most tackles in the NFL since 2000 — more than 250 ahead of No. 2 Ray Lewis (who will be Honolulu-bound again this year) — and has never missed a game in his career. He has played 223 games in a row, keeping him tied for first with Ronde Barber among active non-specialists.

Fletcher is an inside linebacker. They have one primary goal: Tackle the ball carrier. He has done this more than any player in the NFL (again). But he will not be playing in the Pro Bowl (again).

This is not to suggest that the NFC linebacker corps honored as Pro Bowlers are not deserving: the Packers' Clay Matthews (50 tackles, 6 sacks), the Bears' Brian Urlacher (92 tackles, 3 INTs) and 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (93 tackles, 2 sacks) are all worthy.

But Fletcher's line stacks up pretty well compared to the aforementioned trio. He has 163 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions.

Fletcher's other noteworthy stat? He plays for the hapless Washington Redskins.

Which is why the 36-year-old had this to say of his latest omission: "I'm not surprised. The bottom line is we need to win more games."

True. But Fletcher's bottom line (being the most prolific tackler in the league) should count for something. At least one year.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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