Christian Ballard was an NFL starter with the Minnesota Vikings and making hundreds of thousands of dollars of year when he suddenly decided during training camp this year to give it all up. Ballard suffered a groin injury in the Vikings’ preseason opener against the Houston Texans and was forced to miss practice time. Soon after, Ballard told Coach Leslie Frazier he would be leaving the team.
On Tuesday, Ballard conducted an interview with USA Today and explained why.
"I wasn't really having a good time playing football," Ballard said. "It wasn't fun for me. It wasn't a blast for me. Making that much money -- that was fun. But money is still a material thing. You can always make money. You can't make that time that you lose with your friends and your loved ones. Time is something that you can never get back."
Ballard, 24, left the Vikings on Aug. 18 and married Victoria Hallenbeck less than two weeks later.
On Thursday, 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.
"I can always treat my wife better, treat my son better, be a better brother, be a better son," Ballard said. "But I know right now from being out of the NFL that it's a lot easier to focus on those things because I have time. I'm not wrapped up in this whole other lifestyle.
"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 also said that being a sports star changed his personality.
"Playing in the NFL made me selfish. It made me complacent. I just thought that I was better than everyone. 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."
Ballard started every game at defensive tackle for the Vikings the last two seasons. He was a fourth-round draft pick out of Iowa, received a $407,552 signing bonus on his rookie deal, plus $840,000 in salary over the last two years.
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