Ryan Kerrigan and Darrel Young dish on philanthropy, next season and a shared love of Katy Perry.
By Laura Wainman
If you’re a sports fan, our new “Dine and Dish” segment debuts this month, as our resident sports aficionado, Laura Wainman, dishes with Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and fullback Darrel Young at their training facility in Ashburn. Over a three-course meal prepared by Chef Jon Mathieson, they discuss the offseason, the guys’ charity work and what it will take to once again make the Redskins a force to be reckoned with.
Washington is a town that gives 110 percent effort in whatever it does, from lobbying the Hill to finding the best brunch locale to cheering on those suiting up for the big game. But how well do we really know our local legends? Sure, you can recite Bryce Harper’s homer stats just as fast as you can fire off Boehner’s voting record on immigration, but do you know what makes him tick? Each month, I’ll be dining with some of your favorite sports stars to give you a well-rounded portrait of the people wearing the uniforms. For this inaugural column, I headed to the Redskins practice facility in Ashburn to enjoy a three-course dinner prepared by Redskins executive chef Jon Mathieson, formerly of BLT Steak, with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and fullback Darrel Young. Read on to find out who is a devoted Katy Perry fan, who you may see in your Bikram yoga class and what it will take for the Burgundy and Gold to once again be a force to be reckoned with. >>
How often does Chef Jon cook for you all?
Ryan Kerrigan: Usually twice a day, five times a week.
What are your favorite meals he makes?
RK: He makes a chicken parm that is second to none. Whenever that’s on the menu I get a few pieces to take home. His salmon is great, too.
Darrel Young: I had the salmon earlier. He puts some special sauce on it, I still don’t know what it is, but man it’s good.
RK: He makes such a broad menu and I’ve been introduced to so many new foods because of it. I’m more likely to try them when I go out to eat now.
What foods has he introduced you to?
DY: I don’t even like seafood and I eat it just about every day here.
RK: I’d never tried crab cakes before and I love his. I’m hooked on quinoa and faro now and I attribute that to John.
Our first course arrives with watercress and pea shoots salad, fennel, pepper and artichoke tart and duck confit potato soup with duck skin chicarones and abalone mushrooms
RK: I don’t usually like soups but this is good.
DY: He makes a really good gumbo. Everyone knows if you aren’t from New Orleans you can’t say you make good gumbo, but his gumbo? It touched my soul a little bit.
You’re in the offseason now, so how do you prefer to spend your free time?
DY: Playing PlayStation, attending other sporting events, just getting away from the game of football, honestly. I like to travel. I just got back from seven days in Australia where I got to hold a baby kangaroo. I went to kiss it and he just kind of licked my mouth, which I wasn’t too happy about.
He didn’t even ask permission first?
DY: Nah, he kind of just stole that kiss. I’ve done it before though, it’s ok. (Laughs all around table).
You are both very charitably involved in Washington. Tell me about your philanthropic work and why it’s important to be active in the community.
RK: It’s just the way I was raised. I’ve been given a lot, not just monetarily, but with life opportunities and it seems like a no brainer to help people when I can. My foundation [Blitz for the Better] helps special needs and physically disabled children. I am working right now to get Kerrigan’s Korner in place at Children’s National Hospital. It will be an entertainment area with iPads, video games and TVs just to take their minds off being confined in the hospital- a way to give them an escape.
DY: I decided this year to be a Big Brother, because I always wanted a younger brother. Like Ryan said, when you grow up and see how privileged you are, you just want to give back. I’m living my dream, but I’m just carrying pigskin in front of 90,000 people. The least I can do is bring someone along for the journey. I’ve been through every emotion with my little brother, and I just want him to see the good things in life, whether that is getting him around guys like Kerrigan, taking him to RGIII’s summer camp, or giving him water guns for Christmas and chasing him around.
You both work a lot with kids. What do you think are the biggest issues facing Washington’s children?
DY: I want them to understand that they don’t have to just accept the situation they may currently live in. I live by the motto, “Don’t follow the path the trail may bring you to. Create your own path and leave a trail behind you so people can follow you.” Don’t settle.
RK: I agree kids shouldn’t just accept the hand they are dealt. Look at Roger Mody. He is the perfect example of a D.C. guy who started off incredibly poor, but he worked his butt off and became a part owner of the Wizards and Caps. He is totally self-made. You don’t have to start off as a trust fund baby to live the life you want.
Second course arrives and the chef jokingly calls it the “Ryan Kerrigan special.” Seared John Dory is served with house-smoked bacon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower, romesco puree and pickled onion foam.
2014 may not have been a winning season, but it was still a critical year structurally for the organization, particularly with the hire of coach Jay Gruden. What have the biggest changes been under his leadership?
DY: Jay’s mindset is a little different. [Mike] Shanahan was old school in the sense of his spirit. Jay has young kids and he relates to players a little more. Before the Dallas game, he came in and quoted a Juicy J line “Every time I go out, you know I gotta show out.” It excited the guys when your head coach is saying stuff like that and relating to us on our level.
RK: He is a very intense guy both when he’s happy and not happy with what you did. If you’re not doing your job you will hear about it.
What were the biggest takeaways from the 2014 season?
RK: We were 4-12. Even if you were the best player on the team, you need to be better because it obviously wasn’t good enough. Individually and collectively, we need to do something different because if we keep doing the same thing, we will get the same results. Personally, I need to get more fluidity and flexibility in my hips, which is why I’ve started doing Bikram yoga.
DY: Once we eliminate all the distractions we will be ok. We can’t have people going on TV or on Twitter and calling each other out. We have to stay close regardless of what goes on, and we need to keep the media out of what we are doing as a team.
The Redskins have the longest standing home game sellout streak in the NFL and a very loyal fan base. Do you have a sense of pressure or responsibility to perform when playing for fans like that?
RK: Of course we want to give the fans wins, because they are always there for us and we saw what it’s like when we give them wins, in 2012. It’s a different town when we win and we want the city to have that again. They deserve it.
DY: 2012 felt like we had won a Superbowl. It hurts when we know we aren’t doing what the fans want, but I promise you we don’t go out aiming to lose.
What will it take for the Redskins to once again be a perennial post-season contender like they were in the ’80s?
DY: Consistency from every person in the building.
RK: Something that a team like Seattle has is a close bond, and when you care for your teammates that goes a long way. When you see Marshawn Lynch grab a great TD, you see Sherman and all those guys go nuts on the sideline. Not that we don’t get excited when our guys score, but you need that kind of love for your teammates.
The last course is presented with braised short ribs, parsnip puree, seared wild mushrooms and crispy shallots, in a red wine reduction.
Let’s do a quick lightning round now. just say whatever comes to mind. Best meal you’ve had in Washington?
RK: Filomena in Georgetown is my spot.
DY: Jackson’s Restaurant in Reston has a 14 oz. rib eye that is marinated in pineapple for 24 hours. It changed my life.
go-to date spot?
RK: Tony and Joe’s on the waterfront in Georgetown.
DY: I haven’t really been on any dates here.
last concert you went to?
RK: Zach Brown Band at Jiffy Lube last summer.
DY: I went to Drake vs. Lil Wayne. We have different taste in music.
RK: No, not us. [Laughs]
DY: I love Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. I don’t care what anyone says.
RK: Katy Perry makes some good music.
if you could sit next to anyone at a dinner party, dead or alive, who would it be?
what would you say?
DY: I love you. Will you marry me?
RK: I’d ask Chris Farley to do some impressions.
Read an extended version of the interview printed in the April 2015 issue below.
See a behind-the-scenes video below.