How 49-year-old former NFL player Patrick Willis learned about the Pro Football Hall of Fame – NBC Sports Bay Area and California

Former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is still relishing the news of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

During an interview with Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday on Raw Radio in Las Vegas, Willis explained his feelings since finding out he had become a member of the most famous club in the NFL.

“The last 24 hours have been amazing, and I'm still taking it all in. I still feel like every breath, I want to smile,” Willis told Mayoko and Lee Chan. “It's already happened, it's about time. So I'm really excited about everything that's happened in the last 24 hours.”

When asked how he learned of his induction, Willis revealed that he was at his sister's house setting up a basketball hoop for his nieces when he was surprised by fellow Hall of Famer Bryant Young, who delivered the news.

“My assistant kept asking questions like: ‘Where will you be?’ And I wondered why he kept asking me all these questions [he wants me to be] somewhere? He was like, “Hey, there's a package coming.” And it was my birthday, so I was there collecting my niece's basketball goal, which I'm still collecting halfway down the driveway.

“I'm there to get things together, and they come out and say, 'The girls got you something for your birthday.'

“I went to the front door and opened the front door and it was like I was looking at a crime — I was seeing everything — I was like, ‘Wow, it’s about time.’ That’s when it came to my mind.” [Bryant Young]”I saw the jacket, it was a surreal moment.”

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Willis is one of the most dominant players to ever play cornerback, earning All-Pro honors in six of his eight NFL seasons, and earning a Pro Bowl nod in all but one of his campaigns in the league.

Known for his fiery pregame speeches and uncanny ability to level opponents on the field, Willis proudly assumed the role of vocal leader during the 49ers' dominant run in early 2010 that provided a generation of fans with their first taste of success supporting the team.

Willis has long since earned his place as one of the most beloved figures in San Francisco's rich sports history, but now, his induction into the Hall of Fame undoubtedly secures a place for him among the greatest players to ever step on an NFL field – which comes… That came as no surprise to anyone who watched him patrol the midfield at Candlestick Park.


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