B.J. Raji taking a “hiatus,” doesn’t rule out return to football – NBCSports.com

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GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:   B.J. Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a incomplete pass by the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)Getty Images

Defensive tackle B.J. Raji confirmed Monday that he will not be playing football during the 2016 season, but stopped short of announcing his retirement from the NFL.

Raji told Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that he had a “very, very nice deal” on the the table from the Packers to remain with the team, but that health issues in his family helped lead him to a decision to step away from the NFL for at least one season.

In a statement, Raji thanked the Packers and their fans while explaining that he did not feel he could make the necessary commitment to the team that the job requires.

“I am taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 NFL season,” Raji said. “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.”

Because Raji is currently an unrestricted free agent, he’ll be free to sign with anyone in the league if he does decide to resume his playing career at some point down the line.