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Joys of Cleveland

Sept. 03, 2007
Sept. 03, 2007

Table of Contents
Sept. 3, 2007

SI Players: LIFE ON AND OFF THE FIELD
2007 NFL Preview
Departments

Joys of Cleveland

A linebacker talks about the town he loves

LONDON'S CLEVELAND
"I grew up on the east side, around 71st and Superior," says Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, 32, who still lives in Cleveland during the off-season. "My cousin has a barber-shop called Diamond Cuts right near there, and my other cousin has a beauty salon next to that called Diamond Cut Creations. I like to go over there, hang out and talk junk."

This is an article from the Sept. 3, 2007 issue

BELLYING UP
"I love corned-beef sandwiches," declares the 5'10" 258-pounder, who started all 96 games for the Bills the past six seasons before signing a five-year, $25 million deal with the Redskins. "The best three places: Slymans, the Superior Deli and the Chicago Deli. They have great Reubens too. The other sandwich you have to get in Cleveland is the Polish Boy. It's a fried Polish sausage with french fries, cole slaw and sauce, on a hot dog bun. You get those anywhere."

FOR THE SOUL
Fletcher, who's studying to be an ordained minister, says that "going to the art museum [Cleveland Museum of Art] is very relaxing for me, very peaceful. You look at the different periods of art and see what the times were like, what was going on, based on the artists' work. I'm not gifted like that, but I appreciate their talent."

SPORTING SCENE
"The thing to do is go to the Cavs game," says Fletcher, who won two state basketball championships playing for Villa Angela—St. Joseph High. "I have season tickets, third row. Since LeBron (right) the atmosphere has changed dramatically. There's a buzz about the Cavs. I didn't do a lot this off-season because we had a daughter, Paige"—born to Fletcher's wife, Charné—"but I watched a lot of Cavaliers basketball. I had wishful thinking during the Finals."

CLOTHES AND THE MAN
Though he may be a minister by the time he's finished playing, Fletcher also envisions a postfootball career in fashion. "I have a clothing store in Shaker Heights called Craig Anthony. It's urban prep, urban upscale clothing. We sell nice blazers, button-up shirts, fashion jeans, shoes. Men's and women's clothes. My stepbrother came to me with the idea, and the store's named for his sons. I'm involved with paying bills, the back-office type stuff. And I go to the big trade shows."

Hitting a Knuckleball with ...

Orioles First Baseman Kevin Millar

GOLDEN RULE
(Millar has hit .474 with two home runs in 19 career at bats against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.) "It's the old theory: If it's high, let it fly; if it's low, let it go. Most of the time when it's low, it's going to go down in the dirt. It never stays on a plane."

PREP WORK
"You just have to face it. It's weird. You are used to facing 90, 90 and 90. Then you get a guy that is just lobbing a knuckleball. Your timing is off because you just don't see it. No BP pitchers throw knuckleballs."

STRATEGY
"I go to a softball mentality and try to hit a home run. You don't try out a stance; you don't try to take pitches. If it's high, you try to hit a homer."

EPIC BATTLE
Millar cited a 13-pitch at bat against Wakefield on Aug. 2 this season. "It was a dogfight, probably the best at bat I have ever had off him. I was trying to hit a homer, and it was, like, foul, foul, foul, foul. Finally, I hit one up the middle [for a single]. It's kind of fun. People get all frustrated, but you've got to have fun with it."

PHOTOJAMIE SABAU (SANDWICH)PHOTOJAMIE SABAU (STREET SIGN)PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (JAMES)PHOTOSCOTT CUNNINGHAM/GETTY IMAGES (REDSKIN)PHOTOMIKE DE HOOG (KNUCKLEBALL)PHOTOJOHN GREEN/CAL SPORT MEDIA (MILLAR)MAP