What would you give up for your family?

Green Bay Packers free agent B.J. Raji is willing to give up his NFL career. Or, at least a full year of it.

The 29-year-old defensive tackle has announced that he will take a hiatus from the NFL even though he’s expecting to receive an even larger contract from the Packers for next year than the one he was offered last year.

Why would a rising star professional football player simply walk away from the game?

For his family.

“I am taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 NFL season. 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,” Raji wrote in his official statement.

Raji was inspired by the words of famed Packers coach, Vince Lombardi who said, “unless a man believes I 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?”

And so, Raji has decided not to play for the 2016 season. In an interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, he noted that the health of his mother and aunt were factors in his decision.

He knew that the needs of his family come first and until those are met, he could not make a total commitment to the NFL.

I don’t know much about football – apparently, Raji is considered to be in his prime, making his decision even more shocking – but I do know a least a bit about families.

Raji has his priorities on straight. Family comes first. Period.

I admire that about him, and I can see in him a role model for both sons and fathers.

What I admire even more is the fact that Raji has tremendous self-knowledge. Not many of us have that, or at least not to that degree. He knows what he can handle and what he can’t handle. And, he’s not willing to sacrifice what he should handle for what might be more enticing to handle.

In other words, Raji knows himself and what he can and must commit to.

That makes him a role model, not only for fathers and sons, but also for men, women, and children of all ages and states of life.

I think that, for the most part, the rest of us become headstrong and try to plough through whatever might lie in the path of our goals, especially if they involve money and prestige. We know what we want (or what we think we want), and we go after it regardless. There’s nothing wrong with goals; we just have to have the right ones for the right reasons.

If we’re too busy chasing something we’d like to have at the expense of what we’ve already been given by God, then we’ve pretty much lost the game.

Raji knows this, and that why he’s taking a hiatus from the NFL.

My favorite line from his statement is this one: “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.”

It shows that the NFL defensive lineman made a thoughtful, soul-searching decision. He took into account, not only the needs, but also the opinions of his family. And, he sought the counsel of mentors.

That takes guts and shows a high level or maturity. How often do you avoid seeking counsel because you know you’ll be told what you don’t want to hear? I have a feeling that Raji might have felt similarly. Still, he sought the counsel and made the decision.

Although he didn’t specifically say, it seems that Raji has a grip on whose will is the one that really counts – God’s. I think that because he is leaving the door open by not ruling out a return to the NFL in the future. Who knows? Perhaps God will point the way back to football someday.

But for now, Raji’s doing exactly what he should be doing. He’s giving up the NFL for the sake of his family.

That’s total commitment, and I have a feeling Vince Lombardi would be proud of him.