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Cheese Curds, 3/15: NFL official accepts link to CTE; Raji's reasons for stepping away

As a former Packer steps away from football, we are learning more and more about his reasons for doing so.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday amidst rumors of significant interest in his services from multiple NFL teams, defensive tackle B.J. Raji abruptly brought his NFL career to a halt. Raji is taking what he describes as a "hiatus" from football for at least the 2016 season, and through his statements and reports throughout the day yesterday, we have learned more about the reasons behind that decision.

Many of the reasons can be found in today's cheese curds, which also feature a story that would be of interest to many of the other NFL players who have been retiring early in recent years.

Although Raji did not appear to be overly concerned with head injuries (despite suffering a concussion in 2015), the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE) has of course gained traction in the medical field in recent years. In what was a small but meaningful statement this week, we now have the first confirmation from a prominent employee of the NFL that the league is finally beginning to accept that the two are connected.

Read on for more on the 2016 NFL Draft as well.

B.J. Raji ready for 'different challenge' |
Raji's reasons for stepping away from football are understandable and numerous. Health problems for his family members - including an aunt battling breast cancer - and a general reduction in his enthusiasm for the game are the biggest ones.

Hard to see Green Bay Packers DT B.J. Raji's 'hiatus' from NFL coming - ESPN
Although the article above suggests that Raji has been mulling over his decision for some time, it came as a "shock" to multiple sources in the Packers organization, who were pushing hard to bring him back to Green Bay for 2016.

Receiver James Jones hauls in $251,736 bonus |
March brings some bonuses for NFL players based on their contracts and playing time; the lower the contract and the more you play, the bigger your bonus will be. Much like a year ago, Micah Hyde, Corey Linsley, and David Bakhtiari earned significant bonuses as well as Jones.

NFL health and safety official acknowledges link between CTE and football -
This is a first, as Jeff Miller - who is described as the NFL's senior VP for health and safety - confirmed in a House of Representatives committee meeting that "certainly yes," football can be linked to CTE.

Prospect Primer: TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State |
Ohio State uses their tight ends sparingly at best in the passing game, so Vannett is known more for his blocking. However, the Senior Bowl showed that he's a receiving threat after all.

Packers have connection to speedy cornerback prospect |
Auburn's Jonathan Jones attended CB coach Joe Whitt's alma mater, where Whitt's father coaches. However, Jones is 5'9", and the Packers have not drafted a cornerback shorter than 5'11" since Ted Thompson's first year as GM in 2005.