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Patrick Willis Is Headed to the CFB Hall of Fame | The Players’ Tribune

Patrick Willis Is Headed to the CFB Hall of Fame | The Players’ Tribune


– To get inducted into the
College Football Hall of Fame is truly an honor, especially
coming from where I come from. To this day, I kind of consider myself a diamond in the rough. Sports was the ticket out for me. Growing up in Bruceton, it’s
very country, very rural. The first eight years of my life I didn’t have running water. We would go up to my
grandmother’s, fill up the jugs, and I just remember carrying
them back to the house. And I would tell myself, “If I can make it from there all the way to
the house without stopping, I’m gonna get stronger.” And I really didn’t know I
was doing it at the time, but I was building inner strength. When I was young, I saw this
Walter Payton autobiography. The way he had talked about
his growing up was similar to the way in which I had grown up. All they would talk about is
Walter Payton’s work ethic, his work ethic, his work ethic. And I was like, “If work ethic is what
it takes to get there, then I’m gonna get there
because I know that I have it.” My eighth-grade year,
my guidance counselor, she said, “Well, what do you want to do?” I said, “Well, first, I want
to be a professional athlete.” She was like, “Well, you know
less than 1% can do this.” And then, right at that moment, I said, “I guess I’ll be in that
less than 1%, then.” When I was 16, an altercation happened, and so we ended up being
taken from our home and put in foster care. Chris and Julie Finley were
the ones who had taken us in, and I’ll forever be grateful to them for stepping up and
doing what they had done. I didn’t come from a family
that had a college background. I remember they said,
“Now you are in school, focus on your grades, focus on being the best ballplayer you can be, and don’t worry about coming back home.” That was the day they
dropped me off at Ole Miss. Practice, to me, felt
almost harder than games. And when you get in on game
day, game day is just fun. That junior year, Coach Ed
Orgeron calls me into his office, and he says, “Hey, Willy?” He said, “You’re gonna be
my general of the defense.” And I remember saying to
myself, “The time is here now. That’s everything that
I’ve been working for.” I ended up having an extraordinary season, and I ended up getting some accolades. And I was also told that
there’s no way you could have a better senior year than
you had a junior year. One day, I get a phone
call from my brother Orey, and he says my brother Detris drowned. And I just remember being like…. My body just got real light. It just felt like I wasn’t even there. My brother was going into his
senior year of high school, which he was already getting letters. And I had already knew. I said, “Man, he gonna be
even better than I was.” I just remember saying, “Lord, I know that my brother Detris was gonna have an amazing senior year.” And I said, “I want to combine
the season he would have had, and the season I know I’m gonna have, and I want to play for us both.” When the season was over, I ended up doing exactly what
they said couldn’t be done. I ended up being the SEC
Defensive Player of the Year. I went on to be Jack Lambert’s
linebacker of the year, also the Dick Butkus
linebacker of the year. I just felt like a lot of that
season was my brother in me, as well as watching over me. This is where it began,
in the big leagues! That’s me! I’ll never forget us going
out and playing here, and I would just look up at the flag. And as the national anthem was playing, I would just picture him sitting up there watching over us, saying,
“Yeah, boy. We here.” The College Football Hall of Fame, just to be going in with a fraternity of amazing athletes is truly
just unbelievable in itself. It makes me smile ’cause it lets me know that even small places got winners, too. When you have a purpose, a vision, and you play with passion, a lot of things are possible.

45 comments on “Patrick Willis Is Headed to the CFB Hall of Fame | The Players’ Tribune

  1. Willis Is Awesome. Humble and Strong. I watched another longer piece on his life "ESPN" Great Man. Not so much his Father though.

  2. Perfect example of mind over matter. Patrick pick his "MIND" first because of the millions he left on the NFL table didn't "MATTER".

  3. If he played a little longer he would be going in to the pro football hall of fame to but this is well deserved he was a legendary player in college and in the pros.

  4. The only dislike on this video must be Brad Smith https://youtu.be/k_BoUsoBp68 like you a truly for real hater to your core this was a great man and great player

  5. As a Seahawks fan, watching this guy play our team twice a year was crazy. Guy was an absolute beast. Never forgot the time they had Willis, Bowman Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith. One the best linebacker cores ever.

  6. I remember I ran into him Santa Clara. I hopped out of my car to go pay my cell bill and he was sitting there at a outside pation of some nice restaurant with his girlfriend and probably his agent. I was like 19, I sad " Wassup Pat", and he was like "Wassup sir" and i told him that he was a beast and wished him/9ers a good season. Bottom line, just a solid and humble brother who I probably would be really good friends with. MY favorite niner of all time

  7. Patrick Willis my condolences bro your such a humbling person bro I’ve always considered you one of the best LB not only because I’m a 49er fan but you are tough as hell and where you came from

  8. He stopped playing football because he has bad feet. Pretty sure that was the main/first reason. Not that mind over matter shit

  9. I used to feel sad about him retiring early, but then I learned less than 1,000 players in the 100 year history of the NFL have played 8 years or more. So Pat beat the odds and made $40 mil in the process.

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