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Orakpo: Kerrigan will go down as one of Washington's best ever originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Signing with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, Ryan Kerrigan closed the book on an incredible 10-year career in Washington filled with production, consistency, records and strong character.
Yet while Kerrigan will no longer be suited up in the burgundy and gold in the future, his former teammate Brian Orakpo knows that his decade of work in Washington will live on forever. When discussing the best to ever do it in Washington, Orakpo feels Kerrigan's name will be in the discussion.
“Ryan is definitely, will go down as one of the best, if not the best, defender in Washington history," Orakpo said on Washington Football Today with Julie Donaldson.
When Kerrigan entered the league in 2011 after being drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Orakpo had already been in Washington for two seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors both years.
Still, even though Orakpo was already established in the league, he still found himself following in Kerrigan's footsteps and modeling his game after his fellow pass rusher. It's something he noted numerous players did, no matter where they were at in their career when they shared the field with No. 91.
When it came to working hard, it was nearly impossible to top Kerrigan.
“Even the guys, the older guys, younger guys, we all look at Ryan as sort of motivation just cause of his work ethic," Orakpo said. "It was unbelievable, unmatched.”
Not only did Kerrigan embody the mantra of "first one in, last one out," but he did it every single day. No matter how he was performing on the field, each day was an opportunity to get better while playing the sport he loves.
“I thought I worked hard, but this guy. He’ll beat me," Orakpo said. "If I’m coming in at 6:30 he’s already in at 6. He’s that type of guy.
“The guy just led by example. The guy literally had a smile on his face each and every day. Never took any day, any practice any game for granted."
The smile and joy Kerrigan played with was something fans in Washington came to know very well. However, there was another side of him that would come alive when he stepped onto the field. Known as the Heartbreak Kid -- HBK for short -- opposing players probably didn't see Kerrigan as friendly when he was tackling them into the ground.
That is something Orakpo believes is another reason why Kerrigan was so special in Washington. He knew what energy to bring in every type of situation.
“He knew how to turn the switch on when it needed to be. Off the field, just the nicest guy you can think of. I mean I can’t think of a nicer guy than RK," Orakpo said. "But then on the field the guy, like I said, he was a silent assassin. This guy just had a hunger for getting after quarterbacks that nobody else could compare to.”
Kerrigan had a hunger for sacking quarterbacks, and that appetite was met during his time in Washington. The franchise's all-time sack leader, he recorded at least 8.5 or more in seven separate campaigns.
Not only was he consistent at getting to the quarterback, but he was consistent at staying on the field. Playing all 16 games in nine of ten seasons, he was someone that could be counted on to show up each and every Sunday.
“We thought London Fletcher was the Iron Man, RK’s right up there," Orakpo said.
Given all Kerrigan did for the franchise on and off the field, Orakpo believes there are very few legacies like his in Washington, and that he is deserving of having his jersey hang in the rafters.
When combining his play on the field and all-around character, No. 91 will always have a special place in Washington history.
“His number, his jersey number, everything should be retired when it’s all said and done," Orakpo said. "Just cause of what he’s done for that franchise.”
“There’s a lot of negativity in this world today, a lot. When you play with a guy like Ryan, he’s the one that makes you put things in perspective, make you forget about what’s going on in the world and just be joyous about the opportunity you have playing in the NFL," Orakpo said.