Patrick Willis on snakes, TV spot, 49ers
May, 16, 2013
By Lynn Hoppes | ESPN.com
In the new Foot Locker commercial for ASICS shoes out Thursday, San Francisco's Patrick Willis says he's the fastest linebacker in football.
One thing he can't outrun is the controversy over when he recently killed a gopher snake in his house.
Willis, one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL, posted photos on his Facebook page, and the reaction has been swift: Snake killer!
"I grew up in the country and I had snakes around all the time. Snakes are bad. And this one was in my house," said Willis, who grew up in Tennessee and went to college in Mississippi. "I can't spend every day trying to please each person. If I did, I'd be miserable myself. Some people just don't understand."
Willis, who lives in San Jose, Calif., says he often leaves his house door open to allow for fresh air. He wasn't sure when the gopher snake got in or how long it was there.
"Maybe he was just chilling in my house and then decided to move. Maybe it was two days? A week?" Willis said. "It freaked me and my family out. I said, 'This thing is going to die.' The last thing I want was to let it free and then it comes back inside my house and scares my family."
Willis said he isn't a cold-blooded killer as he's being portrayed.
"I'm not out there chasing them down with my car and trying to kill them. I'm not a bad person," he said. "You see all these TV shows where people are hunting boars or rattlesnakes. I had this snake in my house! When you're in my danger zone, I'm got to get rid of you."
With that out of the way, Willis said he can focus on more important matters: like getting his team back to the Super Bowl.
"At the end of each practice, we huddle up and say a quote or something we heard. I pretty much told the team that we need to be the best players we can be," Willis said. "And, in this offseason, every approach I make is pushing myself to limits unknown. I want people to say, 'No way possible that he could be much better.' I'm going for goals that are hard to reach."
And, on his shoe commercial shoot, Willis said it was an opportunity to show that football players can be more than athletes.
"People think we only know football," he said. "We're not all meatheads."