Every Green Bay Packers fan will look back and fondly remember the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. We had just gotten Dom Capers to come in and be the Defensive Coordinator under Mike McCarthy, and were in the middle of switching to a 3-4 defense after a particularly bad season on defense, where the Packers had a top ten pick for the most recent time to date.
Everyone knows that 3-4 defenses need two primary things, a big, solid nose tackle up the middle to eat up blocks from the opposing offensive line, and fast, strong pass rushers from the outside playing outside linebacker. They acquired both in that first round, first drafting their big nose tackle that performed well at the Senior Bowl in former Boston College Eagles defensive standout B.J. Raji. The second player that they took in that first round was the now famous former USC Trojans linebacker in Clay Matthews.
Raji Announces Retirement
Even though it's only been seven seasons, they have been seven seasons where Raji has faced a number of injuries, and played through them more often than not. Raji even said during his retirement press conference that he might just be taking a year away from football and coming back healthy in 2017. This would be optimal if he wanted to return to the game, as sometimes players who have been hurt really just need to get back to full health before they can go out and perform and shine the way that they really want to. Even if Raji does not return back to the NFL, he does have the one thing that everyone in the NFL covets, a Super Bowl Championship Ring, from helping the Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Even with an early retirement, that is something that can not be taken from him.
Raji's Best Play
There really should be no question in anyone's mind what Raji's best play has been in the NFL. Unfortunately for people who are fans of John Kuhn, it is not a play where he lined up on offense as a goal line fullback, although he does have a rushing touchdown in his career merits. It would be this key play from the 2010 NFC Championship Game.
It would end up being his only career interception, and it couldn't have come at a better moment, despite it coming against the third string quarterback of the Chicago Bears in Caleb Hanie. The fact that he was able to return it for a defensive touchdown was huge as well as the Bears ended up getting the ball back and would give the Packers a run for their money as Raji's touchdown put them up 21-7. The Bears did get another touchdown and were driving for another one when Sam Shields would get his second interception of the contest to seal the deal.