Sex, Lives and Football (Players): Grappling With Garoppolo
With Tom Brady’s four game suspension looming over the New England Patriots like a dark cloud, ever wonder who will be under center while Brady sits out his nightmarish suspension on the sofa, sulking with a beer, wishing he never had a preference for soft balls?
Quarterback Ryan Mallett was selected in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL draft expecting to become Tom Brady’s successor. But in 2014, Mallett was traded to the Houston Texans after the Patriots selected quarterback James “Jimmy” Garoppolo in the second round of the NFL draft.
And now, Jimmy Garoppolo is approaching his second season as the New England Patriots back-up quarterback, and the fans are expecting a lot.
Never heard of Jimmy Garoppolo? Unless your a Patriots fan or a crazy sports analyst who likes following back-up quarterbacks, its probably unlikely. Garoppolo wasn’t a rookie starting quarterback like Blake Bortles – the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, or Teddy Bridgewater – the Minnesota Vikings’ 32nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, or Derek Carr – the Oakland Raiders’ 36th overall pick in the 2014 draft. And, he wasn’t a hot mess on-and-off the field like Johnny Manziel – the Cleveland Browns’ 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Jimmy Garoppolo was none of those things after being selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. Unlike the four quarterbacks selected before him, Garoppolo sat behind Tom Brady, learning, studying the play book and film and acclimating himself to the NFL. But with the Wells Report (of which some fans feel very strongly about) and a potential upcoming suspension for Brady, his time might be coming sooner than we all thought.
First, let’s look at some basic facts:
Name: James “Jimmy” Garoppolo
Age: 23 (November 2, 1991)
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Illinois
College: Eastern Illinois
Team: New England Patriots
Height: 6 feet 2 inches
Weight: 225 lbs.
Birth Sign: Scorpio (just in case you were wondering)
And now let’s look at a few specific facts that you may or may not have known about Jimmy Garoppolo:
1) How Did Jimmy Garoppolo Become Jimmy Garoppolo?
Garoppolo played soccer and baseball before playing football in the fifth grade. Jeff Christensen – NFL QB and an Eastern Illinois graduate – met Garoppolo while running the “ThrowItDeep” quarterback and wide receiver training academy in Lombard. Together, they rebuilt Garoppolo’s delivery and release point by focusing on his shoulders and fingers more than his arm.
Christensen called Garoppoi’s quick release, quick foot work, tight mechanics “Dan Marino-esque.” But, Christensen didn’t stop there, saying Garoppolo has a competitive drive, mobility, accuracy, leadership and a quarterback’s mental make-up.
A management Major at Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo was the starting quarterback for the Eastern Illinois Panthers for four years. His talent didn’t go unnoticed. In Garoppolo’s sophomore year, his quarterback coach at the time, Roy Wittke, put it in his head that if he kept progressing “good things would happen.”
During his senior year, Garoppolo completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns, with only 9 interceptions. Garoppolo also rushed for 4 touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass. Garoppolo’s sensational season earned him the Walter Payton Award in 2013, given to the most outstanding player in Division I Football and the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference of the Year Award.
2) Garoppolo’s Family
If you ask Jimmy Garoppolo who the most influential people in his life are, he’ll answer his family. His father, Tony, is a mechanic and his mother, Denise, is a chef. Garoppolo also has two older brothers and one younger brother. And he, of course, has noted the importance of all of them:
“They do a good job of keeping me grounded.”
3) Garoppolo’s Contract
Garoppolo was signed to a 4-year contract for $3,483,898. $1.1 million is guaranteed, and the rest will come based on bonuses if he plays out the full contract.
In 2014, Garoppolo made 6 appearances during the season. He had a 70.4% completions, 182 passing yards, 9 rushing yards, and one touchdown (to Rob Gronkowski) against the Kansas City Chiefs.
4) Garoppolo’s Eastern Illinois Connection
Eastern Illinois might be a small Division I-AA Football institution, but Garoppolo wasn’t the only alumni to gain recognition.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (age 35) and New Orleans Saint’s head coach Sean Payton (age irrelevant) both attended Eastern Illinois and played the quarterback position for the Panthers. Tony Romo finished his college career holding the school and conference records with 85 touchdown passes. Garoppolo broke that record in his senior year, passing for a total of 118 touchdowns in his four years.
5) Garoppolo Dating?
“I just don’t have time. Too busy,” Garoppolo said when asked about dating on the Dan Patrick Show. Assuming he’s still not dating anyone, this Illinois native probably won’t remain a bachelor for too long as he heats up Gillette Field with his dapper smile while Brady serves his suspension.
6) Garoppolo’s Charity Work in the NFL
Recently, the NFL Play 60 and Harvard Football teamed up with Access Sports America to spend the day at the Harvard Football field to help bring football to kids with special need.
Garoppolo spent the day throwing the football on the field with the kids while giving words of encouragement.
7) Garoppolo’s Relationship with Tom Brady
Garoppolo and Tom Brady relationship is more than just sharing the same Sports Agent.
When asked about the relationship between Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels used two words, big brother, he said:
“Jimmy’s a sponge, and Tom’s not afraid to tell him as much as he can. The one thing Tom knows is that if something happens to Tom, he needs Jimmy to be ready. There’s no selfishness at all on that front. I mean, he knows that is something were to happen to him he wants our team to still have a chance to win.”
Of course, even though Brady is said to be down-to-earth (which I doubt), his ego has to be a little conflicted knowing Garoppolo is the younger newer model quarterback for the Patriots.
8) Garoppolo’s Football (Allegiance) Confusion
Growing up in Illinois, Garopppolo favorite childhood football team was the Chicago Bears. An obvious response. However, when asked who his favorite football player was, Garoppolo answered long time Green Bay Packers quarterback, Brett Favre, which was very unexpected seeing as how Bears fans and Packers fans rarely get along. We’ll give him a pass and say that he respected Favre as a quarterback more so than being a Packer. Today, Garoppolo says his allegiance is with the New England Patriots. Which is a smart move seeing as how the Pats are paying him millions of dollars.
9) Garoppolo is a Better Looking QB than Tom Brady?
Move over Tom Brady. In a recent poll, fans thought Garoppolo was the better looking quarterback of the New England patriots. First DeflateGate and now this? Why don’t you decide – Garoppolo or Brady?
10) Why the Patriots Should Be Glad to Have Jimmy Garoppolo
11) Garoppolo is More than Just Football
Want to know what else Garoppolo is interested other than football? Well, Garoppolo likes the beach and country music:
— Jimmy Garoppolo (@JimmyG_10) February 1, 2014
Garoppolo likes golf:
— Jimmy Garoppolo (@JimmyG_10) March 23, 2014
Garoppolo likes to supports his home team (aka Chicago) sports (and that’s the Chicago Blackhawks he’s referring to):
Let's go Hawks
— Jimmy Garoppolo (@JimmyG_10) April 8, 2015
No word on whether he supports the Cubs as well, but let’s face it, until recently, most Cubs fans haven’t had much reason to go public.
Garopollo might not be the most recognized name in the NFL, but he soon might be. And sooner than Brady had expected. Lacking significant experience on offense during the regular season and being faced with NFL defenses that will look to take advantage of this, it’s hard to gauge whether Garoppolo will succeed or fail on the field. But experience has to start somewhere and Brady (age 37) won’t be New England’s quarterback forever.
One thing’s for certain, Garoppolo’s quick release, ability to scramble outside the pocket and throw under pressure gives him the potential to be the next great quarterback in New England.
Let the four game interview begin…