Kerrigan announced his retirement on Friday, ending his 11-year career by signing a one-day contract with the Washington captains. He played 10 seasons for Washington before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in the last season.
He said some doctors told him he should have retired last year due to an injury to his left knee.
“I wasn’t emotionally prepared to not play football anymore,” Kerrigan said. “I had a good playoff and that made me think I could still do it. When I started training again in late June, the knee really bothered me again.”
This made it easier for the player who said football was taken into account in every decision he made – right down to what he had for breakfast in the off-season – to stop playing. Kerrigan, the 16th overall pick in 2011, retires as Washington’s all-time leader with 95.5 while also making four Pro Bowls. He did not score a sack in the regular season with the Eagles, but lost 1.5 in a playoff to Tampa Bay.
Kerrigan emerges as one of the last activists associated with the organization’s previous name. Only 11 of their Kerrigan teammates remained under the previous name.
Center Chase Rollier, one of those 11, said, “We honor him because leaders continue to inherit that name and our team as a whole. It shows we’re the same group of guys whether that name changes or not. There’s a lot of cultural changes, a lot of things that have changed but we’re still able On honoring Ryan.”
“It’s really cool,” Kerrigan said at a news conference on Saturday, as he was accompanied by his wife and three daughters – all under the age of three. “I know this team means a lot to a lot of people. It’s one of the oldest franchises in the league and has a lot of great players, so it’s great that people think of me in this way.”
Kerrigan has been consistent throughout his career, both in approach and production. He was very sensitive in his diet, starting each day with two chicken breasts and drinking 300 ounces of water a day during the season.
It helped him avoid injuries as Kerrigan started the first 139 games of his career, not missing a game until his final season in Washington due to a concussion.
“I tried to take a consistent approach every single day, whether it was week 1 or week 17, whether we were 3-0 or 0-3,” he said. “It’s what allows you to be successful in the NFL, when you have an approach and stick to it even when it’s not appropriate.
“…it meant a lot to me to be there for 139 games in a row and to be ready to play was a testament to how I felt about the game and how I felt about my approach to it.”
When Kerrigan walked into the training facility in Washington on Friday afternoon, he was greeted by the players and coaches, who gave him a standing ovation.
“The most important thing was what he meant for the franchise, the fans and the community,” said Washington coach Ron Rivera, as well as in talking to him about how important it was to do so. We felt obligated because it was the right thing to do…. He was a man you can always count on and help set as a role model. You only get a lot of these guys, so when you get them, they definitely should be celebrated.”
Roller described Kerrigan as an “example” of the NFL player. It’s as simple as devoting himself to a game he loved – and would like to continue as a coach, Kerrigan said.
“I gave them everything I had,” Kerrigan said. “Emotionally, they took possession of everything I had. Football was my life. I didn’t have many hobbies… It was all about football: how would this daily decision help me in football? Well, I get up in the morning, eat Breakfast, how will this breakfast help me in football? This is how I used to eat every day.”