Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Christian Ballard, 24, is speaking out about why he left the NFL in the prime of his career.
No, it wasn’t a scandal and it certainly wasn’t an illness. In an interview with USA Today, Ballard said that he simply “wasn’t living right” and that his career was creating some major barriers in his personal life.
While most people might relish the fame and fortune that a robust NFL career brings, Ballard didn’t have that same experience.
“I wasn’t really having a good time playing football. It wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t a blast for me,” he told USA Today. “Making that much money — that was fun. But money is still a material thing. You can always make money.”
After quitting the team last month, Ballard married girlfriend Victoria Hallenbeck on Aug. 30 and started going back to church — something he hasn’t done in at least four years. He’s also spending more time with his 3-year-old son from a previous relationship.
“I’m not saying that I left the NFL (and) now everything is just fine. It’s not. There’s still a lot of lot of things I’ve got to work on – obviously – as being a husband and a father,” Ballard told the outlet.
Last week, Ballard and his wife were both arrested for domestic battery. The L.A. Times reported: “Police arrested Ballard and Hallenbeck, for domestic battery after an argument at their Lawrence, Kan. apartment. They were released after 29 hours in jail with no charges filed because neither had any physical injury and they were considered mutual aggressors.”
Despite this setback, the former NFL player seems intent on moving forward in every area of his life.
Stepping outside of the NFL world, he’s also planning to get a graduate degree after finishing his undergraduate studies in art this year. While USA Today said he’s not ruling out a return to football, Ballard is clear that the sport just wasn’t working out for him, as the player said that the fame and fortune made him selfish and complacent.
His mother, Denise, told the newspaper his decision to leave didn’t surprise her.
“Christian is Christian and he walks to his own beat. Always has,” she said of her son. “I know there’s not a ton of football players out there that play the cello. He looks at life from a very different perspective.”
Ballard echoed these sentiments.
“Don’t get me wrong — there are tons of people who play in the NFL and are strong believers in the Lord and they have a great lifestyle. But for me, it wasn’t really working out,” he said.
(H/T: USA Today)