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Posted at 09:46 AM ET, 05/12/2011

Kerrigan hoping ‘Grunts’ help him connect with fans

When the Washington Redskins drafted linebacker Ryan Kerrigan last month, he said one of the things that excited him most about joining the organization was the Redskins’ rabid fan base. The Purdue product said he couldn’t wait to connect with Redskins fans.

Kerrigan already is on Twitter, and his followers jumped significantly after being drafted by the Redskins. Now he is hoping a new social media tool helps Redskins fans get to know him even better.

Kerrigan has signed on with Gridiron Grunts — a network offering a new iOS app that lets pro football players communicate directly with fans through their iPhones, iPads or iPods.

Gridiron Grunts, which was created in 2010 by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jeb Terry and Ryan Nece, allows fans to subscribe to their favorite athlete’s channel and receive real-time verbal updates – “grunts” – that are unfiltered and cover a variety of topics. Subscribers can then set up networks and “grunt” back to players and fellow fans.

Think Twitter, but in an audio form, and without the 140 character limit.

Kerrigan is one of 21 NFL players, including San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, the Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten and Atlanta Falcons rookie Julio Jones, who are currently linked up with Gridiron Grunts.

“It’s like Twitter, but with this, fans get to hear your voice, and if they’re familiar with you, they know it’s really you talking, not someone putting it out in your name,” Kerrigan said. “I grunt about all kinds of stuff. After you record your grunt, there are different categories you can file them under. So like the other night, I was watching the basketball game, so I gave my thoughts on that, or I’ll be like, ‘Hey this is Ryan, I’m about to go workout,’ and talk about what kinds of things I’m doing. Just give them a look into my world.”

Kerrigan said that Gridiron Grunts only officially launched this week, so he had yet to have much of a response from fans.

“I’ve just been building up content, but hopefully soon they’ll start to get on board,” Kerrigan said. “The Redskins have such a great fan base, and I just want to immerse myself in it.”

Kerrigan admitted that he is still working to get used to his new status as a celebrity.

“It’s pretty cool, but embarrassing,” he said. “It’s a little embarrassing at times, like when you’re at a restaurant eating and someone asks for your autograph. That’s a little awkward. But it’s a good opportunity, and I’m thankful for it.”

Kerrigan said that after a frenzied two weeks leading up the draft, things are finally starting to settle down. Soon after the draft, he got a call from Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who welcomed him to the team and said he looks forward to working with him.

Otherwise, Kerrigan hasn’t had any contact with teammates. Until the NFL lockout is over, he will continue working out at Purdue’s facilities in West Lafayette, Ind.

“I’m just trying to stay in shape, and stay ready,” Kerrigan said. “I’ll definitely be glad to get the lockout resolved.”

By  |  09:46 AM ET, 05/12/2011

 
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