Ryan Kerrigan was the only player left at FedExField after the Washington Football Team's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was not alone. He was surrounded by all the memories he had collected over the past decade.
He looked at one end zone, and he could see himself scoring his first-career touchdown against the New York Giants in his NFL debut. He turned his head toward the other end zone, and he could see Preston Smith scooping up a fumble he had forced against the Dallas Cowboys and running it in for a touchdown.
The stands were quiet and empty that night, but Kerrigan remembers them filled with fans cheering as loud as he had ever heard them.
"I think those emotions kind of compiling together made me a little emotional, but it's good," Kerrigan told reporters during his exit interview. "I'm glad I was able to kind of reflect."
Kerrigan quickly became a favorite among Washington fans with his team-first mentality, consistent production and, of course, his infamous "HBK'' sack celebration. The former first-round pick gave the franchise numerous high points like his playoff berths and record-breaking performances, and in turn the fanbase embraced him year after year.
Anyone would be impressed with the legacy Kerrigan created in Washington; 454 tackles, three interceptions returned for touchdowns, 26 forced fumbles, 25 pass breakups, four Pro Bowls and the official franchise record for career sacks with 95.5 in 141 starts. But those numbers only tell what he did on the field. What they don't show are the emotions and irreplaceable moments they created.
Washington fans will cherish the memories he created for years to come.
"I always thank RK for doing that, and I always thank him for the type of man that he is and just [taking] me with open arms and teaching me the game," Chase Young said the Monday after Washington's playoff game. "RK knows it's all love, and we're going to have this relationship forever."