49ers linebacker Patrick Willis has made his retirement official
The surprise retirement of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis has been made official.
Willis, 30, has been an All-Pro linebacker for the 49ers, and one of the keys to their success over the last four years. His retirement came as a complete shock, as there was no indication that he was leaning this way until news leaked that he was retiring.
The team released the following statement on Willis’ retirement:
"“On behalf of the entire San Francisco 49ers organization, my family, and our Faithful fans, I would like to thank Patrick for everything he has brought to this team and our community,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in the statement.“Some of the greatest memories in the history of our franchise have come from his passion, dedication and sacrifice. Patrick epitomizes everything you could ever want in a San Francisco 49er. What he brought to this team goes much further than his athletic abilities. His leadership and infectious love for the game helped propel this team. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up around some of the greatest players in the history of this franchise, and Patrick has certainly secured his place among that elite group of men. As a member of our family, Patrick holds a special place in our hearts, and we look forward to supporting him as he moves on from his playing career.”"
Willis sent out this tweet late last night:
Willis was a seven-time All-Pro linebacker and one of the best in the game.
Willis played in only six games in 2014 before having surgery on his toe, which ended his season. He later revealed that the toe injury had been a problem for him for years.
Adding to the surprise of his retirement was this quote from the time of his injury, in which he said he had “five or six years left in my body. … When I come back, I will be bigger and better than I was.”
For the 49ers. the loss of Willis for next season robs them of one of their strongest contributors, and although linebacker is a position of strength for them, they’ll miss Willis, who is the kind of player who makes everyone around him better.
In addition to Willis, next year’s 49ers team will be without head coach Jim Harbaugh, defensive tackle Justin Smith, running back Frank Gore, and possibly guard Mike Iupati and wide receiver Michael Crabtree. It will be a significantly changed 49ers team taking the field next season.
As for Willis, the decision to retire for the league is commendable, if surprising. He’s made millions of dollars, and if he doesn’t have the fire to play anymore, why risk his body and his brain? It’s a decision few NFL players make, but it’s admirable that Willis took that step.
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