San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Jimmy Garoppolo is the official barometer of New England pink-hat sports spectator delusion.
The looniest in our fan base have overvalued players in the past. Lawyer Milloy, Jacoby Ellsbury and most recently Isaiah Thomas come to mind.
Certain guys take on folk-hero status, sometimes due to individual and team achievement, but primarily because we Bah-ston sports enthusiasts create and embrace folk heroes more easily than most. Heck, I remember when Vaughn Eshelman was a lock for Cooperstown after three quality starts for the Sox.
At least those guys — Eshelman excluded — had given us a reason to find them indispensable. There were all-pro and all-star plaudits, game-winning plays, even rings in which they played an integral role in obtaining. They crafted a tangible body of work.
This past week, I heard a crazed chorus pronouncing the trade of Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers as the stupidest move the New England Patriots have ever made. I’ll assume they weren’t around for drafting Hart Lee Dykes or allowing Zeke Mowatt to patrol the locker room unchaperoned, but nevertheless.
I’m wondering on what they based this scouting report. Did they start Jimmy G for an entire season of Madden and go 19-0 with the Denver and Seattle secondaries on beast mode? Because there is no real-world reason to lose your mind over the Patriots getting a top-35 draft pick in return for a dime-a-dozen guy who never plays.
There’s an element out there that truly believes Garoppolo is better than Tom Brady now, and will be for 15 years into the future. Or if they won’t quite engage in that level of blasphemy, they presume at least that he was New England’s next Aaron Rodgers, one future hall of famer poised to succeed another.
I know these people exist because I’ve read their social media spittle with my own four eyes. And I can assume that they based these conclusions upon Garoppolo’s five-and-a-half quarters of starting time last September, because that’s the entire volume of meaningful evidence that exists. Otherwise, he’s in the same category with Rohan Davey, Ryan Mallett, Kliff Kingsbury, Kevin O’Connell and Matt Gutierrez.
Or perhaps they were wowed by the manner in which Garoppolo managed the game against Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals, winning only because the Patriots’ defense stood on its head and the Cards hit a potential game-ending field goal onto an adjacent fairway.
Then they were awestruck by the way he picked apart the Miami Dolphins on three consecutive drives. Maybe this is as good a place as any to point out that the “elite” Joe Flacco just did the same thing until he was knocked out at the same point in the game by a borderline cheap shot from the same Kiko Alonso.
This unwarranted worship opens them up to buying a Brooklyn Bridge of foolishness in a time when too many of us fail to apply critical thinking to anything we read or hear. That Brady felt “threatened” by his understudy and wanted him gone. That owner Robert Kraft “pulled rank” on coach Bill Belichick and dealt Garoppolo out of his own 17-year loyalty to Brady. That the Browns, 49ers, Bears and/or Jaguars offered a top-five pick in last year’s draft for Garoppolo.
That’s the most laughable one of all, by the way. There is absolutely no way that anyone on an NFL front office payroll, even for common sense-challenged Cleveland, believes that Jimmy Freaking Garoppolo has a higher professional upside than Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky.
Truth bomb: Kraft, Belichick and the Patriots received more than market value last Monday night when they plucked what will become a very early second-round selection in 2018 from San Francisco in return for a guy in a baseball cap.
Despite that, in these QB-starved times, once your backup has established that there is even the remotest chance he is one of the top 32 quarterbacks in the league and shows a willingness to stand for the national anthem, you can’t afford to keep both guys long-term.
So New England dealt him in midseason for the maximum return. And yes, that second-round pick is the best compensation that was out there — now, before or later — whether you choose to accept it or not.
Truth bomb No. 2: When the Patriots reclaimed Brian Hoyer, whom the 49ers released to make room for Garoppolo, they upgraded at the backup position in terms of both NFL experience and understanding of the Patriots’ offense.
If the 40-year-old Brady gets hurt, and we all know that’s a possibility, the Patriots will be no worse off now than they were before the game of musical chairs.
For every Brady, Rodgers or Tony Romo who exchanged their clipboard for a decade (or two, in TB12’s case) of sustained excellence, there are two dozen guys named Rob Johnson, Matt Flynn or Matt Schaub who had no business being a starter in the first place, never mind multimillionaires.
I’ll bet you an officially licensed hat with the team’s actual colors that Garoppolo is out of the league or at least riding the bench with a team not named 49ers before Brady retires.
You might accuse me of being from another planet, but at least my lunacy is centered in reality.
Kalle Oakes was a 27-year veteran of the Sun Journal sports department. He is now sports editor at the Georgetown (Kentucky) News-Graphic. Keep in touch with him at [email protected] or on Twitter @oaksie72.