In six seasons in the NFL, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis has earned six All-Pro nods, and is widely considered one of, if not the best linebacker in all of the league. But back in 2007, he was just a rookie, embarking on his first training camp following a decorated career at Ole Miss and charged with facing one of the strongest men in the history of football.
That man was Larry Allen, legendary Cowboys offensive lineman and future Hall of Famer, who, by that time, had moved on to the 49ers and was preparing for what would be his final season.
Speaking at media day in New Orleans on Tuesday, Willis credited Allen with giving him his “Welcome to the NFL” moment early on in that first training camp.
“I saw Larry Allen and I was like, ‘I’m going to put a move on him and go get the ballcarrier. That’s what I did in college,’” Willis said, per ProFootballTalk. “I’ll never forget: He pushed me and I swear, it was like I started on one side of the field and ended up on the other side of the field.”
As the story goes, Allen’s rag-doll treatment of Willis wasn’t lost on the 49ers coaches.
“The worst part was hearing my coach say, ’52, Mississippi, what are you doing?’” Willis continued. “I was like, ‘You see how big this dude is?’”
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