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Indianapolis Colts starting strong safety Khari Willis has played three years in the NFL, starting in 33 games after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
On Wednesday, Willis announced the end of his football career as he pursues a “holy call.”
“With much prayer and deliberation, I have elected to officially retire from the NFL as I endeavor to devote the remainder of my life to the further advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said in a statement on Wednesday.
Willis is only 26-years-old, and was approaching a potential second contract in the NFL as he entered the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.
“I thank all of my family, friends and those who have supported me on this journey thus far and I look forward to your continued support through the next phase of my life,” the statement continued. “I am both humbled and excited to pursue the holy call that God has for my life which brings me much joy and purpose. Thank you all for your support over the years …”
Willis, who ends his career with 219 total tackles and four interceptions, will forgo $2.54 million in 2022 salary, according to the Indy Star.
“We’re thankful and appreciative of Khari’s to the Colts both on and off field over the last three seasons,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said in a statement. “Khari’s character, leadership, and professionalism will be missed in our locker as will his play on Sundays. I admire and respect his decision to transition into the next stage of his life and ministry and my prayers will always be with him.”
The Colts are preparing to enter the 2022 season with new quarterback Matt Ryan, after acquiring the quarterback in a March trade.
Ryan impressed during the Colts mandatory minicamp last week.
“Matt was unbelievable, did a great job, great command – really, A-Z,” Colts coach Frank Ryan said, according to ESPN. “He did everything right just great leadership, great play. I mean the whole way he took command, great collaborating as an offensive staff with him to kind of work in and nuance some of the things we do to kind of suit him and his style.”