The (Fictional) Fable of Garoppolooza
Last week, it finally happened: A year and a half after the game in question, Tom Brady will accept his Deflategate suspension. The GOAT will plant his 38-year-old, gluten-free glutes on the bench for the first four weeks of the season. And suddenly, all eyes are on Jimmy Garoppolo.
Theories abound about what we can expect from the young QB in those first four weeks. With free agency on the flipside, it’s Garoppolo’s time to shine.
Because what if Brady stays seated forever? What if four weeks is all the the kid from Illinois needs to show the world what he’s made of? What if we’re about to bear witness to the Legend of Jimmy Garoppolo? Oddsmakers think the 24-year-old will be serviceable enough to lead the Patriots to at least 2–2 before Tom the Exalted reclaims his pigskin papacy. We know Jimmy’s got more speed than old sandbag legs. What if Jimmy Garoppolo can really dance?
Ahead, behold: the (fictional) fable of Garoppolooza:
Do you remember karaokes from gym class? That glorified groin exercise where you run laterally by crossing your right foot over your left, left over right, looking like a crab that has to pee? Let’s say Jimmy Garoppolo is the Stanley Kubrick of karaokes. Let’s say the TV cameras were too affixed to Brady to notice that Garoppolo karaoked his way up and down the sidelines through every offensive and defensive drive of every game of the past two years. His teammates hated it, but Jimmy got really, really, really good at karaokes. After he mastered the torso-twisting fundamentals, he worked in cartwheels and heel-clicks. At halftime, with nothing better to do, he watched videos of ballet, and soon he added piqués, relevés, and jetés to his karaokes. At this point, if you scanned his DNA, I know he’d be 30 percent crab. And I know he’s going to take those karaokes to the field.
It doesn’t take a forensic scientist to see what’s going to happen come September. Jimmy Garoppolo will become the Baryshnikov of pocket scramblers, and it’s going to have colossal socio-economic impacts on America and abroad.
This is what we’ll see in the four games that will be known as the Garoppolo Era: hours of scrambling. Though he’s got a decent arm, and though Gronk and Edelman will get open 80 percent of the time, Jimmy drops back 190 times, and throws only six passes. He karaokes to the left, to the right, high-stepping over lineman, ducking under linebackers while maintaining textbook karaoke form. Defenses just have no experience tackling crustaceans. The average NFL play lasts about six seconds. Jimmy’s scrambles average 46.8 seconds. But he’s become so accustomed to walking sideways (he also karaokes through airport moving sidewalks, around Boston Common, and into bed) that he’s basically forgotten how to run forward. He runs more than 130 lateral yards on most plays, but averages minus 1.25 yards a carry.
No one cares. The score and the stats are irrelevant. Jimmy is a mesmerizing spectacle, the field his dance floor, his cleats his tap shoes, the nation’s imagination his own. In lieu of the wave, 60,000 Pats fans karaoke back and forth through the rows, creating the illusion on TV that Gillette Stadium is sloshing in rough waters, which prompts unprecedented rates of at-home seasickness. In week three, against the Texans, a millisecond before J.J. Watt sacks Jimmy on his blindside, Jimmy swings his right over his left at warp speed, and the sheer vortex of wind created from his criss-crossing legs halts all of Watt’s forward momentum and sends him flying into the grass, prompting commentator Al Michaels to ejaculate, “Criss-cross applesauce, J.J. Watt is eating moss!” At that, Garoppolooza officially takes off.
Jimmy and his glimmering smile grace the covers of Time, People, Good Housekeeping, Kinfolk, and GQ Korea. He hocks sold-on-TV karaoke instruction videos that singlehandedly resurrect the VHS market. His majestic disregard for touchdowns in pursuit of true beauty compels the sports media to do the same. SportsCenter anchors start to quote Kant, Baudelaire, and Foucault’s treatises on aesthetics.
Two larger phenomena emerge in Jimmy’s wake:
- TMZ Sports breaks into Garoppolo’s house and discovers he owns the world’s most comprehensive collection of house/soul fusion records. When 60 Minutes follows up, a teary Jimmy G. confesses that, yes, he does scramble out of the pocket to the beat of these “magnanimous, life-affirming” songs (here’s his curated playlist). America can’t blame him. The likes of Barbara Tucker, RuPaul, Dee-Lite, and Jamiroquai own the Billboard charts for all of Q4 2016. Nick Jonas and Barbra Streisand record a house/soul greatest hits cover album that makes the Gaga/Bennett duets album sound like a kindergarten jazz band recital. The most popular wedding, prom, and even funeral song for the next three years is Clivilles and Cole’s house remix of “I’m Every Woman.”
- When Savannah Guthrie tries to karaoke on the Today Show, she becomes the first morning-show host in U.S. history to tear her ACL on camera—the screams are so jarring, no less than 250 Today viewers watching on treadmills are also hospitalized after falling. In an attempt to steal Michael Strahan and ABC’s thunder, NBC hires former linebacker Ray Lewis to fill in for Guthrie during her recovery. Lewis’s atrocious lack of tact prods audiences to boycott en masse, and the 64-year institution of Today is eviscerated in two weeks. But the onscreen chemistry between Lewis and Matt Lauer is explosive. A supercut of their most orgasmic moments go viral: Lewis tenderly rubbing Lauer’s bald spot, not knowing he’s on air; Lewis and Lauer gazing into each other’s eyes, silently deciding which one will break the news that Dolly the kangaroo has given birth to twin girls. The effect of the video is so widespread, so sensual, so ecstatic, that the Oxford English Dictionary makes the easy call in dubbing the Word of 2016, “jouissance.”
The tragic figure of this story, of course, is Brady. Watching from the sidelines as Jimmy sashays, plies, and pirouettes behind the line of scrimmage, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. concludes that his entire life has been a joke. He has achieved nothing as “magnanimous” as Garoppolooza. During a commercial break in the second quarter of Game 4, against the Bills, Brady effectively announces his retirement when he whispers into the ear of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, “Later, skater.” (He later explains his statement on Facebook: “You can take the kid out of mid-90s California…”).
Brady decides to find himself by walking atop the median strip of every interstate highway in the nation. He wears nothing but Uggs, briefs, and a 4XL T-shirt that droops to his knees and reads, “I won four Super Bowls, two MVPs, threw for 58,000 yards, and all I got was this unbearable sense of emptiness.” Somewhere along a barren stretch of I-25 in Wyoming, a 1994 seafoam green Ford Thunderbird approaches and the ski-mask-wearing driver—who later turns out to be Bob Dylan—rolls down his window, tosses Brady a bulbous seed, and roars away. Seconds after Brady nestles the seed into his chin dimple, a beanstalk sprouts. He replants it into a pile of sandy loam, and falls asleep.
When he wakes up with the sun, the beanstalk has ascended to the clouds. Tom loves his Uggs with Nicholas Sparksian fervor, but he knows they are terrible for beanstalk scaling. He gives them a proper aboriginal burial (though sponsored by Uggs for years, he never bothered to verify his infantile hunch that all Australians are aborigines), and stares into the dirt until nightfall. When he finally summits the beanstalk, he checks his phone.
Oddsmakers were right, Garoppolo only lead the Patriots to 2–2. But that wasn’t the point. Brady then looks up to find all the angels in heaven practicing karaokes.