Patrick Willis Bids Farewell To The NFL
- Updated: March 10, 2015
Patrick Willis has been a warrior on the football field. He has been the unquestioned leader for most of his eight seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, the end of his eight season resulted in a season-ending toe injury that required surgery. It was expected that in 2015, Willis would come back and be a force with his partner in crime, linebacker Navarro Bowman. But all that optimism in an offseason of change for the 49ers has been for naught. The veteran linebacker has decided that 2014 was his last season in the NFL. Willis is set to announce his retirement from the NFL today. No one knows the real reason as to why although there are some thoughts out there. But the fact remains that he has decided to leave the game while he is still in relatively good shape. And we all should wish him well. He decided to go out the way he wanted to instead of being chewed up and spit out by the league.
Many times players do not get to go out like Willis will be going out. There are tireless stories of players that play and play and play and then play some more. Everyone can remember the story of Brett Farve. He played and played well for the Green Bay Packers. Farve, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, had a genuine kid-like joy when playing the game. You could see him sprinting down the field when big plays happen just to celebrate with his teammates. But the one thing he never learned is when to call it quits. The Packers drafted Farve’s replacement in 2005 when they selected Aaron Rodgers out of the University of California. But Farve, being the competitor that he is, did not want to give up the position. He knew the end may be coming in Green Bay, but he was not going to go down without a fight. Farve fought off Rodgers for as long as he could, but he eventually lost the position to Rogers as he was traded to the New York Jets. And honestly, Farve should have ended his career in Green Bay. But he continued to play on. He would eventually go on to sign with the Vikings after coming out of retirement. Instead of him going out on top and people remembering him for all that he did in Green Bay, there are some that remember his Packers afterlife more and how he may have hung on too long.
Barry Sanders, on the other hand, had a shorter career than Farve had. In fact, he probably could have played longer than he did. Everyone remembers the great runs that Barry Sanders would have each and every game. He would have a bunch of negative runs, losing one or two yards trying to make a great run. But when Barry got one good run going, he was sure to make it one of the most exciting runs you had ever seen. And some of those runs were not even past three yards, just Barry made them look like they were the most exciting three yard runs in NFL history. But almost out of the middle of nowhere, Barry Sanders called it quits at the age of 30 after many different reasons were listed. He probably still could have played and was only one year removed from having a 2,000 yard season. There were many reasons that swirled around in regards to why he abruptly retired from the NFL. He had just signed a contract that paid him a hefty signing bonus (which the Lions sued him to recover some of it) and it seemed as if he could continue playing on. But Barry decided he was going to go out on his terms and be a healthy retiree instead of hanging around too long and suffering. Barry, to this day, is always brought up when people speak of some running backs. New Buffalo Bills running back Shady McCoy drew some comparisons to him because of his style at times and others have as well. But we all know there was one Barry Sanders. And he will forever be remembered for going out while still being able to function as opposed to waiting until the decline happened in his career.
Patrick Willis is about to enter the next phase of his life. Football seems to be the on the backburner as he is now able to enjoy life outside football. There will be no doubts that Willis will have moments where he will miss the game and moments where he will want to go out and play as well. But the decision has been made and he is deciding to go out on his terms. And he will be going out in relatively good health despite all the health risks that are out there in regards to playing football. Whatever he does going forward, he will definitely have success. He has been a leader on the field and a constant competitor and the game will miss him. But the regular world outside of professional sports will now get to enjoy the passion and vigor he will bring to everyday life as a former athlete. Well wishes to Patrick Willis. It has truly been a pleasure watching you play the game of football.