The man behind the best smile in football
AS HE SPRINTED down the snowy sideline Sunday, Bradley Fletcher thought only of scoring for his team. However, in the NFL, blocked PAT kicks cannot be returned, as referee Ed Hochuli humorously announced to the fans at Lincoln Financial Field and the TV audience. Oops.
"I guess I got caught up in the moment," said Fletcher, soft-spoken and taunt-free, smiling his trademark smile. "That was a long way to run for nothing."
This is as famous as Fletcher wants to be.
Like hockey defensemen and baseball catchers, football cornerbacks generally prefer to go unnoticed. Their job is to keep big pass plays from happening. If you hear their names, it usually means they have failed.
Fletcher has failed very little in his first season as an Eagle. He has been responsible for most of the coverage of superstar receivers - Dez Bryant of the Cowboys, Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals and, on Sunday, Calvin "Megatron" Johnson of the Lions. Combined, they managed an average of 5.3 catches for 73.7 yards and scored just one touchdown among them.
He has been a bargain. After four seasons with the Rams, Fletcher signed a modest, 2-year, $5.25 million deal with the Eagles. He has missed three games to injury (concussion, pectoral strain), but in the other 10 games he has managed two interceptions.
Oh, and one long, meaningless return. Marcus Hayes spoke with him Tuesday.
Q The Eagles Youth Partnership sponsors a chess tournament for Philadelphia school kids, who advance in hopes of playing at Lincoln Financial Field against people and players in the organization. You play chess: Would you be scared of playing the kids? Have you been keeping your game sharp around here?
Oh, I'd do it. I enjoy playing chess. I'll be there. I've never played any tournaments, but I can play. I can play with whoever. I'm an above-average player.
But no, I haven't seen a chess board around here anywhere. We do have a pool table, though.
Q You've fared well against big, powerful receivers historically, and that's been true this season, too, against Fitzgerald, Bryant and Johnson. At 6-feet, 200 pounds, you're larger than the average cornerback. Is that the secret to your success?
I think so. I'd always rather play bigger receivers like that. I feel I match up better with them than with shiftier, quick guys. I'd rather play the taller, longer guy. The bigger, the better.
Q Apparently, you're a fan of the "Family Guy" show. There usually is not much of a market for satirical cartoons in a football locker room. Who's your favorite character?
Oh, I like all of those types of shows. I like "The Cleveland Show," too. My favorite "Family Guy" character? That's easy. Peter. The Dad.
Q Your nickname is "Fletch." Have you seen the movie? Do you like steak sandwiches? Have you ever run over a water buffalo?
I've heard so much about it, but I've never been able to sit down and watch it. I like steak sandwiches. And no, I've never even seen a water buffalo.
Q If the technology existed, you say you'd like to teleport. Where would you teleport to?
Hmmm. I would like to go to Hawaii. It's something I plan on doing, someday. And I hate long flights.
Q It's a free flight if you make the Pro Bowl.
Well, yeah, in that case, the flight would be great.