- - Monday, December 7, 2015

Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, now in his fifth season, has been one of the more dominant pass rushers since he entered the league in 2011. In August, he signed a five-year contract extension.

Q: How has life changed and what perspective has that brought since you have entered the NFL?
A: “Yeah, you certainly gain a greater appreciation once you take a step back and look at things. You play a game for a living. Your job basically lasts for six months out of the year, even though you are training and working out during the offseason. It’s a great life. There’s times where you get down on yourself if you are not playing well or if you are losing. You gotta keep things in perspective. You are playing a child’s game and you make a lot of money doing it. It’s a pretty great life. I’ve grown to appreciate the position I’m in a lot more because I’ve grown up and matured because you realize not everyone is as fortunate.”

Q: Our first interview in your rookie year, I said to you that you were incredibly humble and not conceited. How do you stay humble?
A: “It’s easy to. You get that kind of contract, you want to live up to it, to show yourself and the organization and all the fans that you are worth it and you have earned that contract. It’s easy to stay humble. I’ve got a great family, my parents and my siblings, I’m still obviously very close to them. My parents raised me well and they’ve done a good job of reinforcing that not everybody gets to be in this position, but to just appreciate it and be thankful that I am in this position and just to continue to work hard and continue to do the things that got me to this point.”

Q: When you played your first game against the Colts as an Indiana native in Indianapolis, what was that like?
A: “It was really, really [neat]. Things kind of all came full circle. I had gone to a bunch of Colts games growing up because my grandpa had season tickets, so to be playing there, let alone being on the opposing team, it was a surreal moment. It was pretty neat because coming in as a rookie, you are away from your family and I was away from my girlfriend at the time. To come back and to see them for a little bit, was pretty cool. “

Q: Which one of your family members drove you harder to success and work-ethic standpoint?
A: “Both of my parents, really. They’re both very well educated. My mom got her doctorate a few years back and to get that while raising four children. I can’t imagine. It was hard enough going to undergrad when you’re not married and don’t have any kids. I can’t imagine how that much have been for her. She’s always been a great example of work ethic. My dad has been, too. They’ve both shown me the ropes growing up and have been a great example.”

Q: You have a strong friendship Andrew Walker, who is the managing editor of the Redskins’ web site and one of your best friends from growing up in Indiana. What does it mean to you to have him here?
A: “It’s pretty fun. Growing up together, Andrew and I always have been good friends. It’s really funny how everything works out. You’re out here with one of your best friends growing up, working for an NFL organization. I don’t think either of us would have thought that would be possible. You say it would have been easy to leave friends behind, but that would have been hard. I’m still very close to a lot of my friends from growing up and a lot of my friends from college. It’s great to have Andrew here.”

Q: The “show-stopper” sack celebration in honor of WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels — how did that come about?
A: “I gotta give Will Compton credit. He’s the one that told me to do it and try it. I never thought people were going to like it. I figured if I was ever going to do anything after I get a sack, I should do something wrestling-related. That was my thinking behind that. It’s really funny how that has caught on.

Q: Was Shawn Michaels your idol as a kid?
A: “I was always a big Shawn Michaels fan, but I like the Undertaker too and the Big Show.

Q: Could you tombstone piledrive a quarterback one day?
A: “I’ll just take a sack. That will be good with me.”

Q: Your new contract — what did the Redskins’ faith in you mean?
A: “It meant a lot. I’ve grown to really love Washington, love the Redskins, love the organization and the area. To have that faith put in me, it really meant a lot to me. I want to be here. This is the only organization I want to play for and it really means a lot that they have that kind of faith in me.

Q: Why do you believe in the direction of the franchise?
A: “When I think of the Redskins, I don’t just think of football and every day. I think of the people I know in the building, you [media] guys that I have grown to have good relationships with, the fans who have been nothing but supportive of me especially with my foundation don’t just think about football and the day to day practices. I think of everything the Redskins organization has done for me and bringing me to this community and the people that I will have relationships with for the rest of my life.

Q: Your “Blitz for the Better Foundation” is expanding your reach. What is the mission?
A: “We opened up our first ‘Kerrigan’s Korner,’ which is a little interactive locker type deal at Children’s National this past summer so it’s really exciting for our foundation and our goal is to open up more in other hospitals throughout the Washington D.C. area, in the next few years. Recently, we had our ‘Reindeer Rush’ at Children’s National and I’ll be walking around giving presents to kids that are extended stay patients.

“That’s really the main target of my foundation. To bring joy to kids who are going through a crummy and crappy time. I can’t imagine. That’s a tough deal for a kid to be in a hospital at such a young age and being at a hospital for such a long time, so I am trying to bring them a little joy.

Q: What changed recently for you in the New York Giants game that brought some extra success?
A: “I thought I just did a better job of taking the fight to the guy I was going against. I think a lot of times this year, I’ve been reacting too much. Whereas I just need to go. I knew it had to be a mental thing. The mind’s a strong tool and the hardest thing to overcome over any physical attribute. I just knew I had to take the fight to the guy and be aggressive.

Q: You were a big part of 2012, but how different is this 2015 team and is it more sustainable?
A: “I think it is because we have a lot of veterans who have been to the playoffs and know it’s a process. It’s a one-week-at-a-time thing, one quarter at a time, one play at a time. You can’t just look at it as a ‘We gotta win five straight games’ [philosophy]. That’s been the biggest thing about some of the guys we brought in. For example, Jason Hatcher that we brought in last year, a Terrance [Knighton], guys like that have been on winning teams. They do a good job. They do a good job of looking at things day to day.”

Q: What do you like to do to have fun when you are away from Redskins Park?
A: “I’m pretty relaxed. I don’t do a whole lot. In the summertime and spring months, I like to golf a lot. That’s kind of become my guilty pleasure. I’m a member at Lansdowne in Leesburg. I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I travel a little bit. I’ve got some friends here on the east coast and a lot back in the Midwest and I just like to spend time with them.”

Q: You also like other sporting events too?
A: “I should start paying rent at the Verizon Center. Whether it’s a Capitals game or a Wizards game. That’s another thing I associate with the Redskins — I’ve become a fan of the Washington teams, so I feel like I can align myself with the fans because I root for the same teams as them.”

Q: Except for when the Pacers play the Wizards?
A: “Except when the Pacers play the Wizards! Did you see that game the other night? Paul George had like 40 points. He was killing it. Yeah I’m a die-hard Pacers fan. There’s no hiding that.”

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