The 26-year-old Indianapolis Colts starting safety Khari Willis announced his retirement after finishing three seasons in the National Football League to devote his remaining life to advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In his Instagram post, Willis expressed his gratitude toward the Indianapolis Colts organization for allowing him to play in NFL. He said that the lessons he learned during the past three years of playing would be valuable for his next endeavor.

Leaning Towards 'Joy And Purpose'

According to USA Today, the Colts trusted Willis's ability to trade up 20 spots to draft him around 2019. He was about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, which meant he was less than a year away from his first chance at free agency and might get a hefty raise in his second contract. Yet he turned down a base salary of $2.54 million in this year's season.

However, Willis said in his post that his decision came after deliberation and prayer. He said he was both humbled and excited as he pursues the holy call that God has given him that brings him much joy and purpose. Willis took over as the team's starting strong safety midway through his rookie season, establishing himself as a reliable starter with exceptional leadership skills. Willis made 33 starts in 39 games, totaling 219 tackles, four interceptions, and 3.5 sacks.

He was one of the key players in the Indianapolis run defense who battled injuries the previous two seasons, missing two games due to a concussion and fractured ribs in 2020, and six games due to calf and groin problems in 2021.

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Willis Asks For Continuous Support

Colts Head Coach Frank Reich said in a statement that the Colts were thankful and appreciative for Willis' contributions both on and off the field, noting that they will miss his character, leadership, and professionalism in their locker room as well as his play during Sundays. He said, "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."


Willis thanked all his supporters and said that he had built lifelong relationships with many of his teammates, coaches, and support staff that impacted his life greatly. He also asked people to continue supporting him in his next undertakings.

Many of his colleagues and other players had expressed support for his announcement including David Thornton, the Colt's former outside linebacker, who expressed his delight in Willis' post saying "The best is yet to come!" Also, American Football Quarterback Brian Lewerke said he had the pleasure of playing with Willis and expressed his excitement to see Willis' next plans.

Though some were surprised by Willis' announcement, according to USA Today, the Colts have spent the offseason bolstering their safety position. According to the report, Maryland's Nick Cross would be likely Willis' long-term replacement at strong safety.

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