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Pro Bowl Picture Day

Posted by Scott Kegley on January 29, 2010 – 4:35 PM

Friday started off early at the team hotel as the AFC and NFC teams suited up for their team photos.  It’s a great opportunity for the teams to get photos of all their players together as a group for a quick photo.

Once again, Donovan McNabb provided all the needed comic relief during the NFC photo.  One of the photographers was wearing a full Florida State warmup suit.  His clothes, combined with his gray hair made him look exactly like former FSU coach Bobby Bowden…minus his famous hat of course.

“Hey Bobby!” McNabb yelled.  “You’ve had a great career Bobby, sorry to see you go.”

Some of the players were then asked to come over as a team and speak with members of the armed forces on a live teleconference.  The Vikings and the 49ers both spoke for the NFC.  One of the members of the military asked Adrian Peterson why they fumbled six times in the conference championship game against the New Orleans Saints.

“Man, tough crowd,” Jared Allen responded.

Allen was then asked how it was to play with the oldest quarterback in the NFL, Brett Farve.

“It’s great,” Allen said.  “We get discounts at the movie theaters.”

Take a look at our photo gallery from picture day.  It was truly quite a show, highlighted by McNabb sporting a police officer’s uniform and riding around on the officer’s scooter.

One sentimental sight at this week’s practices was Patrick Willis’ former high school coaches Rod Sturdivant and Jack McGee.  The two surprised Willis, making the trip from Bruceton, Tennesse to Miami.

“Coach Sing said, ‘I’m going to ask two other people to come.’  And he didn’t tell me who he was going to ask,” Willis said.  “When I saw them I was really excited because those are the guys who really helped me get to where I am today.”

As much as Sturdivant and McGee impacted Willis’ career, Willis also left quite an impression on his coaches while he was in high school.

“He was a man amongst boys,” Sturdivant said.  “As you can see now with where he’s gone, in our league he was head and shoulders above everyone else.  He was a leader by example.  He’s a quiet individual, but we really saw his great work ethic in everything he did, his schoolwork and also on the field.”

Playing in a small town like Bruceton, the competition level may not have been as high as some of the larger football divisions.  That didn’t hinder Willis, it made him work that much harder.

“I had ambitions, I had dreams,” Willis said.  “I wanted to get to where I am now.  This is my third Pro Bowl and I’m grateful.  I thank God every day.”

For Sturdivant and McGee, seeing their former pupil in the NFL’s all-star game for the third time in three years is rewarding.

“It’s unbelievable and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving young man,” Sturdivant said.

The turning point for Willis occured in his first year with Sturdivant and McGee.  Willis was only a Freshman, playing on the kickoff return team when a short kick headed straight for him.  Willis bobbled the kick and it was recovered by the opposing team.

“I felt so bad, but coach McGee said, ‘You know what, forget about this.  I want you to get in there and play defense,”’ Willis recalled.  “From that point I went out and played defense lights out.  To this day, that’s why I love to play defense as much as I do.  That was the start of it.”

Though Willis’ team when on to lose that quarterfinal game, the advice certainly benefited him and the rest of the defense Willis will be playing with during Sunday’s Pro Bowl.  The NFC boasts an imposing linebacker corps with the likes of Brian Orakpo of the Redskins, DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys and Clay Matthews of the Packers.

“I got to know Patrick before the draft a little bit and he’s a great guy,” Orakpo said.  “He’s a playmaker and that’s what I like – guys who make plays, but who are still very humble in their football careers.  Hopefully there’s still plenty more Pro Bowls to come for him.”

Here’s my entire interview with Willis after Friday’s practice.

For all of our coverage of the Pro Bowl, visit our Pro Bowl Central page. And for more videos like the ones above, check out our new YouTube page.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Pro Bowl Picture Day”

  1. By NinerDude on Jan 29, 2010 | Reply

    Sweet move Sing.

  2. By Brad Dayton on Jan 30, 2010 | Reply

    Well this should be an interesting pro bowl, considering I have 5 talented men to root for. There’s no doubt in my mind they’ll make quite an impact on the outcome. C’mon Niner’s, show em’ what ya got!

  3. By Big Juan on Jan 30, 2010 | Reply

    p willi is a BEAST!!!!!!! best ILB in da NFL

  4. By slim on Jan 31, 2010 | Reply

    More to come next year…GO NINERS!!!

  5. By Csags on Jan 31, 2010 | Reply

    Wow, five Niners playing in this years Pro Bowl, now thats a beautiful site to see. San Francisco has a Pro Bowl player in defense, special teams, and the offensive side of the ball, well in this case 2 in defense, 2 in offense, and 1 in special teams. This kind of showing is a testament of how talented this Niner team is.

    “Go Niners, can’t wait for next season.”

  6. By Ricolen on Jan 31, 2010 | Reply

    I’m predicting a 10-6 season next year and a playoff appearance, maybe even a win in the playoffs, the following year, the sky is the limit. This team is good and just needed time to gel. Next year they should be getting the last kinks worked out and learning how to win consistently. After that, the only thing they’ll probably need to really work out is how to win big, high-pressure games. It took Manning and the Colts years before they got that worked out and won their first superbowl. Hopefully the Niners can do it faster than that.

    I want the 2000-teens to be the next decade of the 49ers.

  7. By 9ers_94 on Feb 1, 2010 | Reply

    They need a QB, if they ever want to go anywhere in the NFL. These guys just aren’t cutting it.

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