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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Former NFL player speaks to 'Dogs

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Former San Diego Charger Terrell Fletcher gives a motivational speech.
SIKESTON - It's not often that a National Football League player makes his way towards southeast Missouri.

But former San Diego Charger Terrell Fletcher, who has family in Sikeston, tries to make the jaunt as often as he can.

So when Sikeston head football coach Jerry Dement heard that an NFL player was in town, he jumped at the opportunity.

Fletcher, who is a cousin of Sikeston football player B.J. Green, devoted some of his time on Thursday afternoon to give a motivational speech to the entire Bulldog team.

"B.J. and my family have been close for many years," said Fletcher. "Anytime I get a chance I try to come down here. The Weed and Seed Program had a big go-back-to-school jam today that I shared at. And also Coach Dement extended the opportunity for me to come and share with the team today. I said, 'no problem.' I love football and I love young people."

Fletcher spoke with the team for about 20 minutes and signed autographs afterwards.

"It's kind of a nice message to get encouragement from a guy who played at a high level in high school and a high level in college and had tremendous success at the professional level," said Dement. "For him to come and give us 20 minutes of his time was really a nice treat. He just gave them a good pep talk, follow the right path message. It was really nice of him to offer those services. They were very attentive and listened. I think they took it to heart."

Fletcher played eight years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers before being released prior to the 2003 season. He rushed for 1,871 career yards on 526 carries with 10 touchdowns. He was also a threat out of the backfield receiving, catching 259 passes for 1,943 yards with three touchdowns. He ranks second in Charger history with his 259 receptions as a running back.

He even threw for a touchdown in 1998, a 23-yarder.

His season-high in rushing was 543 yards with five touchdowns in 1998. His best season receiving was 476 yards on 61 catches with two scores in 1996.

He started 14 games in his 111-game career. He only fumbled 12 times in his career, losing none.

"It's been a great, great ride," said Fletcher. "We had some great years and we had a few tough years. I've had a ton of friendships and relationships. I got a chance to play with some of the best players to play the game at their position. It really taught me a lot about life."

Fletcher attended Wisconsin where he and former Badger star Brent Moss teamed in the backfield to form one of the top rushing tandems in the country. Fletcher helped lead Wisconsin to a Big 10 title and a Rose Bowl championship in 1994.

He ranks third on Wisconsin's all-time rushing list with 3,414 yards.

Fletcher graduated from Wisconsin in 1995 as an English Literature major. He was drafted by the Chargers in the second round with the 51st pick overall.

Fletcher is a native of St. Louis, attending Hazelwood East High School, which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in the 1990 season, until he graduated in 1991.

Fletcher was the Missouri player of the year in 1990.

Fletcher, whose playing size was 5-foot-8, 196 pounds, has actually lost about 10 pounds since then, but he says he wouldn't mind giving the NFL another couple years if the opportunity arose.

"I would definitely go back if I was given the right opportunity, but it would have to be a situation that was user friendly for my body," said Fletcher. "I wouldn't want to go into a place where I'd have to be called on to carry the ball a lot. But for what I do, I'd love to go back and get one or two more years in. We'll see how that plays out."

Fletcher didn't have his contract renewed when the Chargers set themselves up with All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson. But Fletcher said he needed the time off and has stayed busy with his ministry in the meantime.

"I took last season off to heal up -- I was pretty banged up," he said. "I'm just a small guy playing in the league and I needed some time off. I haven't really been actively trying to get back in. I love my life -- working at the church I attend in San Diego. I love working with my non-profit organization called 'DESTINY-N-ME.' That's kind of where my heart is right now. If the opportunity came back, of course I would invite it, but I haven't been actively seeking it out."

Fletcher is an ordained minister and is the Founder and CEO of Terrell Fletcher Ministries (TFM) in San Diego.

Prior to his release in Jan. of 2002, Fletcher won the San Diego Chargers Man of the Year award, which is given to the player that has excelled at dedicating his life for the sakes of others.

But even though he isn't playing football at the moment, the sport remains one of his true loves in life.

"I love football and I love watching young men play the game for the purity," said Fletcher. "This is the last level you'll be able to play it for the purity. It's pretty amazing to see these kids come out here knowing that only one percent will get scholarships, but everybody else is playing because they love to compete, they love each other and they love to be held accountable to each other. I don't think we oftentimes realize the lessons that are learned by doing that. There is no sport like football."