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Former NFL Star Traded The Field For A Silicon Valley Office

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Patrick Willis is showing off his brains after years of showcasing brawn.

The former NFL star, who is just one season removed from retiring, is now a Silicon Valley executive at a tech startup.

Willis, who made the Pro Bowl seven times in eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, is the executive vice president for partnerships for Open Source Storage, a company for which he also serves as a board member.

LinkedIn/Patrick Willis

In an original report for Mashable, Sam Laird tells the story of how Willis went from the turf at Levi's Stadium to the tech field. The former linebacker told Laird he met Open Source Storage Founder Eren Niazi in their Silicon Valley neighborhood.

Niazi didn't have a clue who Willis was, according to Laird, but he noticed an injured Willis having trouble moving bags from his car to his house.

With time, the pair got to know each other more, enough to be comfortable working together on a business. Two months after Willis retired from the NFL, he agreed to join Niazi and officially became a Silicon Valley exec.

He told Laird,

For me, this is an opportunity to be able to tell young kids that you can be more than just a physical specimen to be great. I'm a person that can't speak about something until I've done it myself.

That "something" sees the former Ole Miss standout taking charge of creating strategic partnerships in the media, entertainment and sports industries for Open Source Storage, which itself is a company that specializes in data storage.

And while some might think Willis retired a bit too early -- he's still just 31 -- he insists he's at peace with having walked away from the NFL, saying,

For me, there's more to my life than football. It has provided an amazing platform for me to build on, but it's my health first and everything else just kind of makes sense around it.

If his new career path is as big a hit as the ones he delivered on the field, it will make even more sense than it already does.

Citations: NFL star Patrick Willis is thriving in retirement as a Silicon Valley tech worker (Mashable), Ex-NFL Star Patrick Willis Tackles Storage Technology (Enterprise Tech)