B.J. Raji was a surprise breakout story of the Green Bay Packers’ unlikely Super Bowl run last year. As the Packers pin-balled their way through the playoffs from a wild card berth to a world championship over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 330 pound nose tackle emerged as an essential cog of the Packers’ defense.
But the now-veteran lineman became a media darling along the quest for the Packers’ fourth Lombardi trophy. When Packers coach Mike McCarthy used the massive defensive star as a blocking back in the playoffs, Raji took a page from William “The Refrigerator” Perry and tagged himself “The Freezer.”
With his eager smile, jovial sideline presence and uncommon energy for a man his size, Raji became a household name amongst football fans when he ran back the only interception of his career for a touchdown in the NFC Championship game to beat the arch-rival Chicago Bears. He celebrated with a self-titled, silly, thumping and bumping dance that left fans asking how they could learn to “Raji.”
As this year’s undefeated version of the Green Bay Packers get ready to take on Jared Allen and the Minnesota Vikings in Lambeau Field on the latest edition of Monday Night Football, Raji spent some of his downtime exploring Ubisoft’s new video game, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, against the Vikings’ star running back, Adrian Peterson in a special promotional event.
Raji put down his controller and the adventures of Ezio long enough to discuss the Packers’ progress this year.
CraveOnline: The Packers are 8-0 going into tonight’s game. They have the most dominant offense in football and a star quarterback who’s putting up unheard of numbers. But still there are concerns about your defense. Where’s the team’s attitude about your defense right now?
B.J. Raji: We had a special practice today to deal with it before I had this chance to play Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. We struggled against the San Diego Chargers, and we wanted to work on our communication. We’re proud of our record, but there’s always room to improve. We know that – especially with the a rival like the Vikings coming in here this week.
CraveOnline: The local Packer fans flood the airwaves with their concerns, even though you’re undefeated. Does the extreme – maybe excessive – love and loyalty of Packers fans ever get to be too much?
B.J. Raji: We have the best fans in the league here, and we know they want to win as badly as we do. We never get tired of them and never take them for granted.
CraveOnline: Your defense is a work in progress, but you have an offense right now that seems unstoppable. What’s it like watch Aaron Rogers work every weekend?
B.J. Raji: It almost seems unfair the way he’s playing. He’s having a great year, but I also see how hard he works every week – how he doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s a great leader because he doesn’t let up on the how hard he works.
CraveOnline: With your personal success in the playoffs last year, teams are keying on you. Has it been a struggle to adapt to a target on your back?
B.J. Raji: I prepare the same way every season, every week for every game. So, if they key on me, it’s just another challenge for me.
CraveOnline: Away from football, you’re deep into the Assassin’s Creed video game now. But, you also became known for your dancing last season. We haven’t seen The Raji much this year. Will we see it again?
B.J. Raji: I think you’ll see some dancing again, but you can’t give it away all at once.