Watch tear-jerking moment Young welcomes Willis to Hall of Fame originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Patrick Willis had to wait longer than he should have for his Pro Football Hall of Fame nod, and the emotion was written all over the 49ers legend’s face when he got the news.
The moment was revealed Saturday night on NFL Network’s “Hall of Fame Knocks: Welcome to Canton,” and none other than San Francisco great Bryant Young, part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2022, was the one to tell Willis.
Warning: Get your tissues ready.
“You came in with your head down, you worked, you didn’t talk,” Young told a tearful Willis after welcoming him to the Hall of Fame. “Your play, your work ethic, it spoke louder than any words that could ever be said. You deserve every last bit of it.”
Young’s final season with the 49ers and in the NFL, 2007, just happened to be Willis’ rookie year. The defensive tackle met Willis before he went on to become a five-time First-Team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection, but was there every step of the way as the linebacker earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, the two will be enshrined together in the Hall of Fame for eternity.
During an interview on Super Bowl Radio Row with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan, Willis described the moment he opened eyes to see Young standing before him and what led up to the big reveal.
“My assistant kept asking questions like, ‘Where are you going to be?’ And I was like why does he keep asking me all these questions like [he wants me to be] somewhere?” Willis said. “He was like, ‘Hey, there is a package coming.’ And it was my birthday, so I was there putting together my niece’s basketball goal, which I still have halfway put together in the driveway.
“I’m out there putting it together, and they come out and tell me, ‘The girls got you something for your birthday.’
“Went to the front door and opened the front door and it’s kind of almost like I was looking at an offense — I could see everything — I was like, ‘Wow, it’s time.’ That’s when it popped in my head. I saw [Bryant Young], I saw the jacket, it was a surreal moment.”
A surreal moment indeed. And one Willis — nor the 49ers Faithful — will ever forget.
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