Patrick Willis says he will never use stats to define greatness

Feb 16, 2017 at 11:03 AM--


Former San Francisco 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis joined "Joe, Lo & Dibs" on 95.7 The Game and was asked about his hopes of one day getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After all, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis made it this year despite a relatively short playing career. The same could be said of Willis, who retired from the NFL after just eight seasons. Davis played just seven seasons and participated in just 17 games over his final three seasons.

Davis had three spectacular seasons, rushing for over 1,500 yards in each and rushing for over 2,000 yards in 1998. Like Davis, Willis' level of play was high during his shortened career. He had over 100 tackles in six of his eight seasons and had over 140 tackles three times. During his rookie season (2007), he led the league with 174 tackles. But stats were never important to Willis.

"You know it's funny that after my first year in the league, I was compared to so many different other linebackers," Willis said. "Everybody from Ray Lewis to my linebackers coach at the time, Coach Singletary, to Jack Lambert to Dick Butkus. I mean, you just name it. Everybody kept comparing me to all these other people and I remember getting these tattoos that people would come to see later on and I would flex and it would say, 'I'm me.' And the reason that I got that tattoo was for the simple fact that I respect all those guys for what they did and the way they played their game at the level of consistency they played it. I have always told myself that when I came into the game, I would never judge myself by someone else's statistics to see whether I was great or not. I would base it off whether I done what I know I came into the game to do and I truly felt like I did that and that's why I was able to walk away from the game as I did.

"I'll never forget Coach Singletary telling me my rookie year -- First day of training camp, we had an altercation -- I think I told people before but he pretty much told me he didn't want me coming into the draft. He wanted Jon Beason and I'll never forget him telling me that because of some things that transpired during practice and pretty much what I had asked him at training camp meeting that night, he pretty much told me, long story short, what I took from it was: He said, 'You have to earn the right to be great and you have to earn that right to ask those kinds of questions that you asked tonight.'

"And I'll never forget leaving that practice facility telling myself that and going to my room and getting on my knees and saying, 'Lord, I don't know what it's going to take, but whatever it takes, I want to give it everything I've got and I want to earn the right to be great because I know that I am. I know that I'm meant to be here.' I never looked back and that was the one thing that I forever take with me."

You can listen to the entire interview on 95.7 The Game.



Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News


placeholder image

How 49ers' lack of interest in Patrick Mahomes led to Brock Purdy

By David Bonilla
Mar 1

You've undoubtedly heard this story before—a narrative tracing the path from the San Francisco 49ers' disinterest in drafting a quarterback in 2017 to their selection of quarterback Brock Purdy in 2022 with the last overall pick. ESPN's Adam Schefter recently revisited this tale, though it's one that's been shared numerous times. During a recent conversation on the "Pardon My Take" podcast, Schefter discussed the 49ers' lack of interest in adding a rookie quarterback in 2017, including future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes, despite initially owning the No. 2 overall pick. What led the 49ers to avoid thoroughly evaluating quarterbacks from that draft class? Head coach Kyle Shanahan believed the team could secure Kirk Cousins the following offseason. However,


placeholder image

With Brock Purdy's injury now behind him, 49ers GM John Lynch says QB can focus on "areas of improvement rather than just getting well"

By Marc Adams
Mar 2

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy had a remarkable 2023 season. It was his first full season as the starter, and Purdy did not disappoint, passing for 4,280 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also led the league in passer rating at 113.0. And Purdy became the 49ers' first Pro Bowl QB since Jeff Garcia was selected in 2002. Matt Maiocco, of NBC Sports Bay Area, recently sat down with 49ers GM John Lynch, for the latest episode of 49ers Talk. They talked about the season Purdy had, and how different this offseason is compared to last offseason, when Purdy was coming off a torn UCL suffered in the NFC Championship Game. There was plenty of speculation as to whether or not Purdy would play


placeholder image

John Lynch says Brock Purdy has given 49ers stability at QB

By Marc Adams
Feb 27

The San Francisco 49ers finally have stability at the quarterback position. And it's been a while coming. Three years ago, the team was on the verge of making a major trade for the chance to draft Trey Lance, who they hoped would be the QB they had been waiting on. They needed to find a new quarterback because of the lack of stability at the position, primarily due to the number of games starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo seemed to miss most seasons. But after watching Lance for some time, questions began to arise as to whether or not he could be the quarterback they drafted him to be. And after he and Garoppolo both were lost to injury in 2022, Brock Purdy, the barely-drafted seventh-rounder came in and saved the season, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game. But a torn


placeholder image

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has 49ers adding pass rusher at No. 31

By David Bonilla
Feb 28

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper unveiled his latest mock draft, projecting the 32 selections of the first round. For the first time since 2021, the San Francisco 49ers own a first-round selection and could use the pick to bolster the offensive line or the defensive backfield. However, Kiper has the team going in another direction. He proposes adding a pass rusher to complement defensive end Nick Bosa on the opposite side. Kiper's pick for San Francisco is Chop Robinson of Penn State. Kiper wrote, "It has to be offensive line or edge rusher for the 49ers, right? They need to find


Latest

Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone