Yesterday, Patrick Willis played in the first playoff game of his sterling 5-year NFL career. He also won the first playoff game of his career, helping to lead a mostly great defensive effort in the 49ers’ 36-32 victory, in what I think was the perfect football game in today’s day and age.
When I woke this morning, still beaming from last night’s win, I flipped on the TV and immediately saw Willis’ face as he described to Jeffry Chadiha on a segment of ESPN’s great show E:60 the harrowing details of growing up with his brothers and sisters in an abusive house with his drug-addicted father.
I’d never seen the entire segment, so I sat and watched it and. I definitely teared up a bit at certain points hearing what Willis went through, and the incredible character and maturity it took to overcome it.
You can’t not root for Willis. Watch if you haven’t see this and you’ll see why.
NFL players get a bad rap for not always being the most upstanding of citizens or role models. It’s a deserved rap in many ways, because so many NFL players have not represented their league, their families, and themselves with dignity on and off the field.
Not Patrick Willis.
This is one of the most remarkable men in the NFL, and with leaders like Willis it’s no surprise that the 49ers have persevered through so many coaches and so many losses during his tenure to come out on the other side in the NFC Championship Game.
Image credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images via B/R