B.J. Raji's decision to walk away from the NFL at the age of 29 caught many by surprise, including the Green Bay Packers.
The defensive tackle recently announced that he's taking a hiatus from the NFL for at least the 2016 season, and leaving behind a "very, very nice deal" to remain with the Packers.
"Oh yeah, he had been communicating with Russ (Ball, the Packers' chief negotiator) and we thought we had a deal done," Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said Sunday at the league's annual meetings, via Stu Courtney of USA TODAY. "I think it surprised his agent."
As surprised as he was by Raji's decision, Murphy respects it.
"It's not an easy decision," Murphy said. "The easy thing to do is take the money. Especially the letter he wrote. He obviously thought things through.
"I was surprised. I'm happy for him. He obviously gave it some thought. Some of the illnesses in his family affected him as well."
Asked if he thinks Raji will return after sitting out a season, Murphy said, "Everybody is different. Obviously, that's going to be B.J.'s decision. I was really pleased that he pointed out and thanked Russ Ball and people in the organization. It obviously meant a lot to him throughout his career."
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