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Super Bowl XLVII: 49ers' Patrick Willis draws praise from Ravens' Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis has lots of praise for the 49ers' Patrick Willis and has taken to giving the younger linebacker advice.

USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, a now six-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro selection, has received his fair share of praise from writers, analysts and players alike.

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But getting a nod from Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who has promised to retire after the Ravens and 49ers square off in the Super Bowl, is among the highest praise the sixth-year linebacker out of Ole Miss could hope to get.

"[Willis] is one of the up-and-coming young stars who plays the game the right way," Lewis said at Tuesday's Super Bowl Media Day. "He plays the game with a certain passion, and plays with a certain discipline. Honestly, I really enjoy watching the young man play."

According to Lewis, the two have spoken often these past few years, a relationship that began during Willis' rookie season, according to the Baltimore veteran.

"I've been talking to Patrick since his rookie year, and I got into his story a little bit, why he wears 52 and all that," Lewis said. "It is actually humbling to know him as a man because when we started talking at Pro Bowls, he would always tell me all of these stories, and we would just have conversations."

Lewis sees himself as something of a mentor to Willis, making sure to dispense sage advice to the already well-decorated linebacker at some point in every conversation the two have.

"That's a young one, a young lion I talk to a lot," Lewis said. "My job is now, every time I call him, every time I tell him something, I always try to give him good advice, whether it's to stretch more or to do more to have the longevity that you are trying to have in this game."