How could these two Rebel icons be more different? Willis is an All-Pro NFL linebacker; Smith is a white newscaster with a soothing smoker's baritone. P-Willy is the "quietly doing his job type;" Shep likes to gator chomp in jest on a purportedly serious news network. One is fair and balanced, the other knocks world-class athletes off balance and doesn't care whether it's fair or not. The underdog says that we don't torture; the favorite respectfully disagrees.
Here's the deal: both of these Rebels are consummate badasses. Regardless of your politics, you know it's fun to watch anybody stick it to their boss and get away with it because they're too damn popular. If Rachel Maddow decided all of a sudden that she wasn't wild about the capital gains tax, MSNBC would send her ass down the river. But Smith gets to say whatever he wants - sometimes he wants to say nice things about Ole Miss - and everybody who disagrees with him just has to take it.
Meanwhile, Patrick Willis is a confident, but not overbearing, athlete, who just happens to be the best in the world at what he does. While the Reggie Bushes of the world were living in their paid-for houses in Cheater-town and painting their shoes gold for training camp like they belong in the latest Shrek movie and not on a football field, Patrick Willis was - by my own observation - driving the same red box Yukon around campus even a few weeks before the draft was about to make him more wealthy than all of his friends combined.
Good, good Rebels.