Packers Lineman BJ Raji Announces One-Year “Hiatus” from Football
Green Bay Packers defensive lineman BJ Raji has announced that he’s taking a “hiatus” from football for the 2016 season.
The ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Raji, 29, is currently a free agent and was likely to sign his third consecutive one-year contract with the Packers. His 2014 deal came on the heals of a down 2013 season, and his 2015 deal came after missing all of the previous season with a torn biceps.
Raji experienced something of a return to form in 2016. While he wasn’t an every down player, he was a key cog in Green Bay’s rushing defense.
In his official statement, an exceprt of which you can read below, Raji cites legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi and explains that he is taking a year off out of respect for the organization. He also says this is not a retirement, and that he is not ruling out a return to football in 2016.
Have a look:
I am taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 NFL season. This decision was made after hours of conversation with close family members and mentors and considerable self-introspection and is one in which I am absolutely certain. I cannot rule out a return to the NFL in the future, but I will definitely not be playing during the 2016 season.
Coach Lombardi once said that “unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it — his mind, his body, his heart — what’s life worth to him?” That is the approach I have taken with football since I was a 2-star high school recruit. That total commitment was the foundation of my success at Boston College, helped me become a top ten pick in the NFL and helped me both make a Pro Bowl and win a Super Bowl. However, when my agents Brian Murphy and Camron Hahn informed me that they had a new deal with the Packers, I knew that I would not be able to live up to Coach Lombardi’s “total commitment” standard and made this decision out of respect to this great organization.
I have played football and been defined as a football player for as long as I can remember. This offseason was the first time that I felt myself pulled in another direction and I am excited to first be “all in” with my family back home and then to explore new frontiers. I am not exactly sure what the next phase of life will entail, but I am confident that all of the lessons I learned during my NFL journey will provide a solid foundation for success.
Just last month Raji’s agent Brian Murphy dropped hints that Raji was thinking about his future after football, telling ESPN that “BJ’s a guy who’d love to spend his entire career with the same organization and then eventually go to work in their front office.”
At the time nobody knew Raji was thinking about cutting his career short. However, given the lip-service he gave to the Packers organization in his statement, he certainly set himself up for a possible scouting gig in the future.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]