Jan. 19, 2007

“I am pleased to announce that today I have reached an agreement on a five-year Major League contract with the Chicago Cubs. Consequently, I will devote my full time and attention to professional baseball and forego a potential career in the National Football League. I am honored to be given the opportunity to pursue this career path as a member of the Chicago Cubs. This is a dream come true for a kid who grew up in Northern Indiana looking up the road at this great city and its loyal fans. I feel very comfortable that this is exactly where I belong.

“Obviously, my decision means I have played my last football game. That does not mean I have lost my passion for the game. I will always love football. My four years at Notre Dame – playing for the Fighting Irish – were amazing. I could not have asked for more from my teammates, our fans, and our coaches. I appreciate fully that another amazing experience awaited me in the NFL. But, as much as it seemed like a real possibility last summer, I have concluded that playing two sports professionally is impossible.

“I understand that some people may be skeptical of my intentions. I cannot lie: leaving football will not be easy. But playing baseball is my first love. It is what I want to do for a living.

“I want to thank the Chicago Cubs and the Tribune Company for helping make this happen. I want to especially thank Jim Hendry. His belief in me and my passion for baseball never wavered. He took a chance on me last summer, and he waited patiently while I did what I wanted to do. Today, I hope Jim feels rewarded for that patience. In addition, I want to thank Paul Mainieri and Charlie Weis, my two head coaches at Notre Dame. The two of them figured out a way to allow me to live out my dream of playing two sports in college. None of this would have been possible without their understanding and cooperation.

“Finally, I want to thank my family and everyone who has been so supportive for so long. No one gets to this point in their life without love and support. I am blessed to have an abundance of both.

“In closing, I want to let Cubs fans know that I am committed to their team and their goal – to bring a World Series championship to this great franchise. I only hope I can be a part of that someday.”