You may love his State Farm commercials but for now B.J. Raji is taking some time off from the NFL.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 14, 2016
This is what Raji had to say about this move:
The full B.J. Raji statement for people who hate links: pic.twitter.com/xOpEP3Rex6
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 14, 2016
Since being drafted 9th overall in 2009, Raji has been a very important force in the middle of the Packers defensive line. Outside of injuries, B.J. is an all-pro performer who stops anything that heads his way and also will just push the offensive line into the quarterback whenever he is hungry for a sack, which is usually all the time. The fact that Raji says that he cannot rule out a return after the 2016 season is enough to keep this from being a pure retirement event but it would be hard to see him returning in my opinion. Sure, Raji is 29 and could rest up and come back in 2017 but if you read what he says it seems pretty clear he wants to be with his family more than anything right now.
So often, players feel they are only defined as football players and not encouraged to reveal their true selves or passions and I think we are entering an era in which players are pursuing other paths. I can see more players using their passion for the game to set up a short but successful career in which they earn the money to then pursue other avenues in life in which they are also passionate about. If players are smart they can make enough money in a 3-4 year NFL career to set up so many other opportunities given the fact that the minimum salary in the NFL is $425,000.
Raji came in and immediately brought success to the Packers. In just his second year, B.J. won the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 2010. A big guy, Raji came from Boston College and the ACC where he finished with 103 tackles in three years from 2004-2006. B.J. missed the 2007 season because of academic eligibility issues but returned in 2008 to help his team get to the Music City Bowl. At 6’1 337 lbs, B.J. Raji is a big guy who fits the bill of a nose tackle. Raji’s bench press at the combine resulted in 33 reps and the Packers made him a top 10 pick.
I wish Raji the best in his off-the-field career and as a fan would love to see him back in uniform. If this is his retirement then I think he had one heck of a career and kudos to him. The Packers will most likely address this in the draft and perhaps the higher they do the more likely they view this as a retirement. Ted Thompson’s job just got a little bit tougher in 2016.