Happy Super Bowl Sunday y'all. Whether you spend it perched up in your favorite local watering hole, at a friends house hovering over a chicken wing-broiling grill, or on a couch all by your lonesome, we know you're sure to enjoy it because, as Rebel fans, we've got a pair of players to pull for that we all really would like to see win this thing.
Baltimore's Michael Oher and San Francisco's Patrick Willis are Ole Miss fan favorites in ways against which only the Mannings and Deuce McAllister can compete. Oher brought fame to Ole Miss through Michael Lewis' book The Blind Side which was adopted into an Oscar Award nominated motion picture of the same name (surely you all know this). Oher also introduced the Ole Miss faithful to Hugh Freeze so, uh, yeah, thanks for that one Big Mike.
Willis, who was a junior and senior while Oher was a freshman and sophomore, led the SEC in tackles, won the Butkis Award, and earned consensus All-American honors on a team which only mustered three wins in his senior season. Since debuting for the 49ers in 2007, he has established himself as one of the league's premier linebackers, if not the hands down best.
Of course, none of this is news to y'all. And the same can be said for their incredibly odds-defying rises to stardom in spite of their hardscrabble backgrounds. Still though, on this holiest of secular American Sundays, their stories are incredible reminders of the possibilities of the American dream and the good fortune that sports can bring to those who deserve it.
Here, check out this video from the Duracell Trust Your Power campaign:
In addition to this content, we would also like to share with you an interview set up between us and Willis as a part of the Duracell campaign. This now marks the second time I've spoken to Patrick Willis on the phone, making me a pretty huge deal in celebrity circles now. I know, you're jealous. I'm used to it.
Here's the text of our brief interview with Willis:
Red Cup Rebellion: Patrick, as an Ole Miss fan, I'm really curious about your time spent with the Rebels in Oxford. You left a lasting impression on Rebel fans and I know we are all pulling for you to do well. That said, are there any moments during your time in college that have left a lasting impression on you? Is there a moment that stands out above the rest?
Patrick Willis: I would have to say that signing my letter of intent was a big moment - really a great day. Getting the opportunity to go to college and play football in the SEC changed my life. Starting those four years at Ole Miss meant a lot to me; they were the best years of my life.
RCR: Are there any games in particular that stick out to you?
PW: The Alabama game during my freshman year sticks out to me. I was in a reserve role and on special teams, but I had some really big hits that day. That was a lot of fun, and it was the day that people really began to start talking about me and noticing me. "Who is Patrick Willis? Where'd he come from?" That's when it all began.
RCR: How's living in the Bay Area?
PW: I love California. I love the weather and the food. It is very different out here. Very different from Tennessee or Mississippi. But I still like it a lot.
RCR: Ole Miss has made a lot of changes recently? Have you been keeping up with the Rebs?
PW: I watched the games that have been on ESPN. I watched the Alabama game and the Texas game. The team played really hard but made some mistakes. That happens in football. If they keep playing hard though they'll win enough games, especially the games they are supposed to. I like how the freshmen and sophomores played in the games I saw.
RCR: Your take on the hire of coach Hugh Freeze?
PW: Oh I definitely approve of the hire. He is the right guy for the job. I remember him when I was in Oxford and he was a nice guy and a lot of fun. He is a good coach and if he gets good players he will win.
RCR: Are you planning to make it back to an Ole Miss home game any time soon? Please say yes.
PW: I would love to come back when the Rebels have a home game and I have a bye weekend. That has not worked quite yet but I hope it will soon. I would love to be back in Oxford for a game.