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Getting back to No. 52, Willis said he was given a choice of numbers when he was drafted _ 51, 57, 59 or 52.

“I said to myself: `Why don’t I get the number 52? I know a guy right now who wears that number who is one of the best. It will be a great number to play up to.’ That’s kind of how it came about.”

He’s actually pretty friendly with Lewis, a bond that has grown with time together at Pro Bowls and regular text messages.

“That’s a young one, a young lion I talk to a lot,” Lewis said. “I’ve been talking to Patrick since his rookie year, and I got into his story a little bit, why he wears 52 and all that. It is actually humbling to know him as a man because when we started talking at Pro Bowls, he would always tell me all of these stories, and we would just have conversations. My job is now, every time I call him, every time I tell him something, I always try to give him good advice, whether it’s to stretch more or to do more to have the longevity that you are trying to have in this game.”

Willis calls it an honor to share a field with Lewis.

“I see a man that plays with passion. I see a man that plays with enthusiasm every play,” he said. “I see a man who’s a leader. I see a man who made a difference by the way he played the middle linebacker position. That’s one of those things that someday, when a young kid looks at me, when another teammate looks at me, and they watch the film, I hope to have that kind of feel to the game. I hope to have that kind of eye. He’s the Mufasa of this league right now.”

For now, yes.

Willis‘ teammates already consider this his time. They have for a while.

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