Nearly two years after announcing that he would enter the 2018 NFL Draft, former Kentucky TE CJ Conrad has announced he will be retiring from the NFL.
In a Zoom call Wednesday set up with reporters, CJ said "I think I'm done playing football."
His professional career was ultimately cut short due to health concerns that happened weeks before the NFL Draft. CJ Conrad was diagnosed with a heart condition which sidelined him from the Combine, hurting any extra chances he could've had of showing his physical capabilities to teams that could have potentially drafted him.
Teams were hesitant to take the risk on signing him, which limited his interests from organizations to around 6-7 teams. The New York Giants were the only team to take a chance, and they signed him as a free agent. He spent most of his time on the practice squad, then towards the end of the season signed a contract that could put him back on the game roster, until the COVID-19 wave hit. "We went through a pandemic. No one could report to the facilities. Then after the draft we (the Giants) went over our numbers — we’re only allowed to have 90 guys — and so they decided to part ways with me," said CJ Conrad.
CJ says the NFL isn't allowing many workouts with other teams for free agents, and that it was tough for guys like him to be a free agent and not be getting any team workouts, so he decided it was time to take a new career path.
On Monday, CJ Conrad was announced as an 'off the field graduate assistant' for the football program at the University of Kentucky. "I'm glad to be back."
With the new step towards becoming a Head Coach one day, CJ is content with the path he's been given. “I’m very content and happy with my career as a college football player and my short time in the NFL, especially with my body, going through four surgeries in college. I think I was a little checked out and ready to move on with my life. This was something I really wanted to pursue, especially at a program like the University of Kentucky where I really feel like Coach Stoops has done an amazing job. I really wanted to be a part of something special again and that’s why I’m here.”
Kentucky continues to build their staff through loyalty and talent, and the addition of former Tight End CJ Conrad was an excellent move. I hope CJ fulfills everything he wants to achieve in this role, even with the cards he's been dealt.