Last offseason, it seemed the Packers were getting ready to bring back BJ Raji when he abruptly announced he was taking a hiatus from football. Not retiring, but taking a hiatus. Apparently, there were some health issues in the family and we hope those are going well (and it’s not like the dude should have been hurting for cash).
I hoped, given the lukewarm language, since he didn’t really say he was retiring, that he may have come back in 2016. After all, he returned from his bicep injury to play 15 games at a high level in 2015. He didn’t put up a lot of numbers, but he’s a nose tackle and he held the point and was very disruptive in pushing the backfield.
Throughout the year, I kept wondering if he would come back mid-season. He didn’t.
After the table was run and the playoffs started, I thought he could be a good fresh body and he might come back. He didn’t.
I’ll admit that, leading up to the NFC Championship game, right up to the point that the actives and inactives were announced, I held out a glimmer of hope that Raji would make a surprise appearance, quietly signing a deal and jumping in with no warning, like a professional wrestler flying out of the backstage area to grab the bell and jump off the top rope.
He didn’t (but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a mental image of him flying 10 feet off the ground with a bell held over his head, getting ready to bring it down on an unsuspecting Andre the Giant – that would be awesome!).
After the Super Bowl, I still wondered if he would get back into it. Free agency came and went, the draft came and went. Still nothing. Each week that goes by helps me get closer to accepting that he’s done.
But now it’s really at an abrupt end.
Third round pick Montravius Adams (who PFTW thought would be a good fit) was recently assigned number 90. In case you didn’t remember, 90 was Raji’s number.
It doesn’t mean he can’t come back (nose tackles have a long shelf life – Vince Wilfork looked solid at 35 last year and Raji is 5 years younger), but in a business where answers are often given through veiled messages, this is about as direct a message as we’ll get. If he comes back, it probably won’t be with the Packers.
It’s possible that he put on more offseason weight than Eddie Lacy and if we ever see him on tv again, he won’t even be playing football – he’ll be on Maury Povich as one of those 700 pound guys who can’t get out of bed and has to wash himself with a rag on a stick.