Khari Willis: From NFL Safety To Minister Of Defense

WESTFIELD, IN - AUGUST 02: Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis (37) runs through a drill during the Indianapolis Colts training camp practice on August 2, 2021 at Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis is retiring after three seasons in the NFL, and he’s doing it by the grace of God. According to Willis, he will be retiring from the NFL to pursue a career in ministry.

The 26-year-old safety took to Instagram to announce his decision, creating a post addressing his family, friends, and fans.

“With much prayer and deliberation, I have elected to officially retire from the NFL as I endeavor to devote the remainder of my life to the further advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Willis said via Instagram.

“I thank all of my family, friends, and those who have supported me on this journey thus far, and I look forward to your continued support through the next phase of my life. I am both humbled and excited to pursue the holy call that God has for my life, which brings me much joy and purpose. Thank you all for your support over the years.”

The Promise

The Michigan State product was one of the promising young talents in this league. Taken in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, he was a starter for most of his three seasons and would rack up four interceptions over his three-year career.

With those picks, he also tallied 219 tackles, 11 pass deflections, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Willis was also able to capture a defensive touchdown as well.

Willis could’ve been a significant starter on the Colts’ defense for years to come. With his sudden retirement the Colts are now tasked with trying to fill that gap at safety. They’ve already started by signing former longtime Eagle Rodney McLeod on a one-year veteran’s minimum deal and drafting Maryland defensive back Nick Cross in the third round.

In The Cloud

McLeod, 31, is entering his twilight years of his pro football career. While he isn’t expected to supply the level of productivity he did with the Rams and Eagles, he should be able to provide some well-experienced safety play for this star-studded Colts defense.

Nick Cross, meanwhile, was a standout at Maryland, tallying a total of five interceptions, 134 tackles, ten pass deflections, and four sacks in three seasons while making the bowl game in his final year before being drafted. The Colts seem to have measures to cover Willis’ defensive back hole with short-term and long-term options.

But just because they have players to fill Willis’ position doesn’t mean they won’t miss his level of productivity and him as a person and teammate. Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke on Willis and what he meant to the locker room.

A Short Legacy

“We’re thankful and appreciative of Khari’s contributions to the Colts both on and off the field over the last three seasons,” coach Frank Reich said via statement.

“Khari’s character, leadership, and professionalism will be missed in our locker room as will his play on Sundays. 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 moving on so soon from the NFL adds to a long list of players with potential who left the NFL at a young age. The Colts can understand this feeling because just a few years ago, they lost their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck (29 at the time), to retirement.

The game will miss Willis; however, knowing what is best for himself and answering to a higher calling is the only thing that matters.