“When I Left You, I Was But the Learner…”

Let me preface this by stating unequivocally (before I get digitally tarred and feathered) that I have nothing against the New England Patriots​ or Tom Brady​ and have no firm opinion on what may or may not have happened in “Deflate Gate.” I lived in the Northeast seven years, am a diehard Green Bay Packers​ fan and that’s just how it is. No desire to insert myself into that mess whatsoever.

That said, assuming Brady does remain suspended for at least two games, it will give former Eastern Illinois University​ QB Jimmy Garoppolo​ those starts presumably. I have no personal connection with EIU in the least, but as an Illinoisan and a general fan of underdogs/mid-majors/small school athletes, I am definitely cheering for his success in Brady’s absence. Brady himself was an underdog when he took over for Drew Bledsoe way back when — a sixth-round pick who was good but short of great at Michigan, and who practically no sportswriter on Earth would have predicted to go down as one of the greatest ever to play the game. Bledsoe was the big money, big arm guy, who’d already led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl since being iceboxed in ’85. More than a dozen years later, and Patriots fans barely remember life before Tom (and Gisele… …let’s be honest).

Brady turns 38 in August, and regardless of his brilliance, the future approaches quickly. Is Jimmy Garoppolo the guy to emulate Tom? Play the Rodgers to Brady’s Favre? The sample size is miniscule, admittedly, but in six NFL appearances his rookie year, Garoppolo is 19-27 for 182 yds, a TD and no INT, good for a 101.2 QB rating. That’s pretty good. Over the course of a career, it’d be second-best all-time (well short of Aaron Rodgers’s 106.0, of course — sorry, had to throw that in there), but with sample size and the degree to which traditional QB rating is subject to interpretation as a metric of overall QB performance, don’t worry — I’m not putting too much into those numbers. Just mentioning them because they’re there and at minimum indicate a degree of competence at the pro level.

After the Packers, I do root for the Patriots; I’ve spent a quarter of my life in Patriots country, after all. I want to see Brady succeed, but as a proud Illinoisan, I want to see Jimmy Garoppolo show that he’s ready now to take over when the time comes.

~ by Benji on May 26, 2015.

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