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Ex-Viking Ballard: NFL was no longer enjoyable

The SportsXchange

After a month of silence, Christian Ballard opened up Tuesday regarding the reason he walked away from the Minnesota Vikings in training camp.

The former defensive lineman told USA Today that he wasn't enjoying life in the NFL anymore.

The revelation came less than a week after Ballard was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery following a dispute with his wife at their Lawrence, Kan., home, according to USA Today. The district attorney dropped the case without filing charges, the newspaper reported.

Ballard, 24, left the Vikings on Aug. 18 and married Victoria Hallenbeck less than two weeks later, according to USA Today.

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After he was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out the University of Iowa, Ballard played all 32 games for Minnesota the next two seasons. He started twice as a rookie. Ballard made 13 tackles in 2011, 16 tackles in 2012, including one sack.

"I wasn't really having a good time playing football," Ballard told the newspaper. "It wasn't fun for me. It wasn't a blast for me. Making that much money -- that was fun. But money is still a material thing. You can always make money. You can't make that time that you lose with your friends and your loved ones. Time is something that you can never get back."

Ballard told USA Today that leaving the NFL is allowing him extra time with his 3-year-old son from a previous relationship, and that he hopes to complete an undergraduate degree in art. He said he's become a church-goer again.

He refused to rule out a future return to football.

"(Playing in the NFL) made me selfish," Ballard said in the interview. "It made me complacent. I just thought that I was better than everyone. Don't get me wrong -- there are tons of people who play in the NFL and are strong believers in the Lord and they have a great lifestyle. But for me, it wasn't really working out.

"I'm not sitting here saying I'm done forever. I've just got to re-evaluate what I really want to do with my life and go from there."

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