In today's Rewarding Moments In Washington History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, Ken Harvey opens up about signing with Washington in 1994. (By Kyle Stackpole)
Ken Harvey grew up in Austin, Texas, before playing collegiately at the California. The Phoenix Cardinals then selected him with the 12th pick in the 1988 NFL Draft, and he played his first six seasons there.
For the first 28 years of his life, Harvey hardly spent any time on the East Coast. But Harvey received an offer that he could not refuse during the 1994 offseason.
Washington was (and still is) one of the biggest markets in the NFL, and the team was willing to give him what was then the second-biggest contract in franchise history in terms of average annual value. Harvey was worthy of the money -- he averaged nearly eight sacks per season -- but even he admitted that he was coming off some "pretty good injuries" having torn his ACL and part of his rotator cuff.
Harvey appreciated the lengths Washington went to to acquire him, and after considering a variety of factors, he rewarded the team for its effort.
"Coming here, you had a lot more media attention, which was good," Harvey said recently. "I think I fit in well with the team here -- it was a great opportunity for me. The fans were spectacular. Everybody was diehard, so that was really cool."
Despite growing up surrounded by Dallas Cowboys fans, Harvey knew of Washington's rich history and wanted to be a part of it. He also thought this team was capable of returning the franchise to its winning ways.
That success never materialized -- Washington went 32-47-1 during Harvey's five seasons there -- but he established himself as one of the franchise's great linebackers. He made four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1994-97, averaging 86.5 tackles (73 solo) and nearly 10 sacks per season.
Those statistics have stood the test of time, too, as Harvey currently ranks fourth on the franchise's official all-time sack list despite playing just 74 games in the burgundy and gold.
"There was that attitude where you walked in the locker room and walked in the building and you saw those trophies and you knew you were part of a winning tradition," said Harvey. "That, to me, was the coolest thing. That's something that people might take for granted now, but that tradition was something that I really valued and said, 'I want to add to that tradition and be a part of that tradition.'
"We tried -- it didn't work out that way -- but we had a lot of great opportunities and great players to play with."