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An Injury Forces Ryan Kerrigan to Retire

Updated: Jun 16

By: Emily Hur

Last Friday, former defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, a football player who defends the field’s sides, officially announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL). While he still yearns to play professional football, his doctors advised him to retire due to his bad left knee.

Kerrigan played in the NFL for 11 seasons, 10 of those with the Washington Commanders. Medical professionals told him about his injured knee in May 2021, but he ignored their warnings and played one more season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Although he delayed his retirement, his knee was in awful condition.

When the 2021 season ended, he took a few months off from training. Kerrigan started to feel better and wanted to return to the field but later reconsidered. “[I] was like: ‘Oh, my body feels nice! I can do this again,’” he said. “It’s like, well, your body feels nice because you haven’t trained for football in two months, so you got to kind of acknowledge the truth there.”

Kerrigan desperately wants to play football again because it is his life passion. “Even though I know it’s the right decision, ultimately it’s still not easy to know that I’m not going to play football anymore,” he said. “Been doing it for so long. But I just know where I’m at, health-wise and whatnot, that this is the best thing for me moving forward.”

With Kerrigan gone, Washington coaches and teammates recount his contributions to the team. Several players respect him for his outstanding skills and advice. As a team veteran, Kerrigan would frequently share tips about techniques, drills, or recovery. He is mainly known for his commitment and remarkable work ethic.

Terry McLaurin, a wide receiver who catches passes or block defensive players, still remembers Kerrigan’s pointers about overall health and game preparation. Fellow defensive end Chase Young describes how Kerrigan guided him when Young had just joined. They used to laugh together, and Young “looked up to [him] since middle school.”

“He’s a guy that you could always count on,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s a guy that always could help set the example. I mean, you only get so many of those guys, and when you get them, they most certainly need to be celebrated.”

Though he is stuck on the sideline, Kerrigan intends to work as a coach to teach younger players. Because he spent most of his career in Washington, his job will likely be with the Commanders, maybe as a consultant or assistant.

“I love football too much,” he said. “I just love football too much to not be involved in it in any capacity.”

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