From the NFL to Silicon Valley: Patrick Willis Finds a New Career

Changing careers for anyone is an up-hill battle. But making the switch from star NFL Linebacker to the tech industry in Silicon Valley? Well, that seems like a pretty big leap to make. Yet that is exactly what former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis has done in just over a year since his retirement in 2015.

Willis career change
Willis’ playing days ended abruptly. But he has made quite the splash in the tech industry already. Photo Credit: NFL.com

Our friends over at NexGoal have a full article you can read here, but the story is certainly one that all former athletes should be reading today because it sounds like it is straight out of a movie. Willis and Open Source Storage owner Eren Niazi were neighbors in Silicon Valley, but had no clue who each other were. They met by chance, when Niazi saw Willis struggling to carry grocery bags into his home following surgery and offered to help out. Niazi was not a sports fan, so he had no clue who the 6’1″ and 240-pound athlete was in front of him. He was just there to lend a helping hand.

In the months following their meeting, the two got to know each other even more. Niazi grew impressed with Willis’ desire to be more than a football player after his retirement and admired many of the traits that made him a star on the field. Within a few short months after his official retirement, Willis would then join the Open Source Storage company. He did not join to be just a “face” or investor either, Willis has become a valuable member of the organization and member of the team 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.

Once again, you can read the entire article here, which includes quotes from Niazi and Willis. But there is an important lesson for athletes to take away from this article. Just because you may not have industry experience on your resume (if you even have a resume at all), it does not mean someone out there is not interested in the experience and hard work you put in on the field your entire life. Conveying that passion and those traits in a conversation with someone could be all it takes to land your first career after playing.

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