After Eli Manning, Patrick Willis needs his number retired by Ole Miss next

Patrick Willis, Ole Miss Rebels. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/WireImage)
Patrick Willis, Ole Miss Rebels. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/WireImage) /

Ole Miss football needs to retire Patrick Willis’ No. 49 jersey next.

In the history of Ole Miss football, only two jerseys have ever been retired.

The first one is obvious. Whenever you drive on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, the speed limit around town in 18 miles per hour in honor of 1969 All-American and College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Archie Manning. Without question, Manning is considered to be the greatest player in the history of Ole Miss Rebels football.

The second retired number is one of tremendous sentimental value. The No. 38 jersey honors the life and legacy of Ole Miss defensive back Chucky Mullins, who was tragically paralyzed from the neck during a game vs. the Vanderbilt Commodores in 1989. Mullins passed away at the age of 21 in May 1991. His legacy proudly lives on in the reverence of that No. 38 jersey.

Ole Miss will now be adding a third number to be retired. Eli Manning’s No. 10 jersey will join his father’s No. 18 and Mullins’ No. 38 as the third in school history. Manning will receive this honor during the 2020 college football season by his alma mater.

Is Manning deserving of this honor? Absolutely, as he too was one of the greatest players in Ole Miss football history. Though he may not end up in the College Football Hall of Fame like his father, Manning will be Canton bound like his older brother Peyton Manning. Though adding a second Manning to the retired jerseys list, player No. 4 without question has to be Patrick Willis.

Patrick Willis has to be the next number retired by Ole Miss football.

Manning might be a member of the first family of football, but Ole Miss needs to do the right thing and retire Willis’ No. 49 jersey within the next few years. If they want to space it out and give 2020 to Manning, that’s totally understandable. However, Willis did everything necessary to be remembered forever as a Mount Rushmore candidate in Ole Miss football history.

Willis overcame abject poverty in his native Tennessee to become a two-time First-Team All-American, a two-time First-Team All-SEC performer, a Butkus Award winner and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee as part of the Class of 2019. He went on to play eight incredible years in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers, likely earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

As a senior in 2006, Willis won the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. While he didn’t get to wear the precious No. 38 jersey, as a commemorative patch was apparently okay from 2006 to 2009, Willis represented Ole Miss and Mullins’ legacy with his impressive final season at Ole Miss. It culminated in him being the No. 11 overall pick by the 49ers in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Ole Miss never got to Atlanta during Willis’ time in Oxford, but the tone he set and the legacy he left should never be forgotten. He may be forever enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame and hopefully in the Pro Football Hall of Fame very soon. However, that doesn’t feel like enough for what he did and meant to the Ole Miss program. His No. 49 jersey should be retired.

Willis should have his No. 49 jersey join the Mannings and Mullins among the Ole Miss sacred.

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