Normally, the nose tackle position is a non-descript and inconspicuous role for any NFL football team. Since early January, however, BJ Raji’s name and dance has dominated NFL headlines since the playoffs began.
It’s fairly difficult to hide and go unnoticed when you’re a 6’ 2” and (listed) 337 lbs football player. As an understatement, Raji has done anything but go unnoticed as the Green Bay Packers marched into the Super Bowl this year.
His presence has helped to anchor the defensive front line of the Packers and his performance has shone brightly all season, yet none brighter than the previous four weeks. He has helped the Packers defensive line dominate at times during important playoff games.
None more important than the NFC Championship game against the Bears in Chicago. Raji’s improbable ‘pick six’ interception late in the game sealed the win for the Packers. Even more improbable was how the video of Raji’s Hula Dance celebration in the endzone went viral on YouTube after the game.
Watch BJ Raji do ‘The Raji’ in the endzone of Soldier Field in Chicago after scoring the game-winning touchdown via an interception and touchdown here.
So much so, that students at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay recognized the ‘talent’ potential of Raji and turned his 15 second celebration into a contagious video, calling it ‘The Raji’ a new dance sensation. It first circulated in the Green Bay area via the local television news, then throughout schools, then on to the national stage via ESPN.
Quickly after his ‘performance’ spread across the internet, nicknames for the powerful nose tackle began streaming across America. Included are 'The Freezer', ‘GaRaji’ and the Raj Mahal, yet this author’s favorite is a self-assigned tag of the Big Jolly Raji, a spoof on being a Pirate and most appropriate as the Packers prepare to play the Steelers, a Pittsburgh area sports franchise, along with the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB (Major League Baseball) team.
Fans and players alike have welcomed the skyrocketing fame that BJ Raji has garnered in the past month. The humble, quiet and hard-working Packers nose tackle that played college football at Boston College, has taken his quick-found fame and has had some fun with it.
Without question, however, he remains focused on the ‘one last game’ of this football season and plans to be again celebrating in the locker room after the game has concluded.
This Green (and Gold) giant is having the time of his life and simply wants to be a team player. And what a team player he has become after having been drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Football draft.
Given the fact that star rookie Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be playing in the Super Bowl due to a high ankle sprain (fractured bone), Raji is expected to cause extreme disruption and challenge to Steelers backup center Doug Lagursky. Today is Lagursky’s first career game as the starting center for the Steelers.
They say timing is everything.