By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

London Fletcher – Signed by the Bills in 2002

The Bills had hopes that Sam Cowart would sign a new contract with them in 2002. They offered him plenty of money and other incentives, but Cowart signed a six-year deal with the New York Jets instead. Buffalo needed a middle linebacker to replace him, and fast. Luckily, one was available.

London Fletcher had established a reputation as a tackling machine and a quality person while playing for the Rams from 1998 to 2001. Buffalo got a deal done worth more than $17 million over five years. It was a bargain. Fletcher had 730 tackles in 80 games as a member of the Bills, leading the team in that category each season. If you like your linebackers durable, well, he never missed a game in Buffalo. Cowart only started for two seasons in New York and left after Season Three.

Fletcher was 32 when his contract expired, and he left for the Redskins. Was he too old? No. Fletcher played seven years for Washington, and had 956 tackles. By the way, the veteran was 112 for 112 in games played for his new team. His contributions were appreciated, but it’s too bad Fletcher couldn’t have stayed for a longer time.

Here he takes a look back:

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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