MIAMI — Remember back when things were simple? Back before the endless speculation over Tom Brady’s 2020 plans?
Four years ago, the popular narrative was the supposed “rift” and friction between Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. Based on comments from Garoppolo this week, Brady was always good to the current San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback. In fact, Garoppolo can laugh and joke about those rumors now.
So, was any of it true?
“Not that I know of. Maybe he didn’t like me very much,” Garoppolo said joking on Wednesday. “No. We always had a great relationship. Tom’s a great dude.”
Garoppolo preferred to let Brady lead by example on the field rather than bug him in the locker room and on the practice field.
“He was awesome,” Garoppolo said. “Everything he did, I never tried to be too much of a pest and ask too many questions. But just watching him from afar, how he went about his business, how he handled off the field things on the field, whatever it was, he always did it the right way. He gave me a good example when I was young.”
And that’s the job of a veteran player. They’re there to play, while coaches are around to coach. Simply watching can be a valuable tool for a young player.
“I think (Brady) was good with (young quarterbacks),” 49ers wide receivers coach and former Patriots receiver Wes Welker said Wednesday. “I think any young player needs a veteran to just show them how to be a pro. ‘What are you looking at?’ Just being around them and even standing in line behind them. ‘OK, this is how he’s doing it. Huh. That was interesting. Maybe I should do this.’ It’s not like he just sits there and has to coach the guys up or anything. He’s coaching them by showing them what to do every single rep. And then they step in, and they do the same exact rep right behind them.
“Like, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s having all of the film right there in front of you but it’s actually, like, live. And you’re actually paying attention or honing in to it. To me, there’s no better teacher than that.”
At the end of the 2016 season, Garoppolo, Brady and third-string QB Jacoby Brissett started calling themselves the Wolfpack. The three have kept in contact and even attended the Kentucky Derby together.
“We were a tight crew,” Garoppolo said. “That quarterback room was a lot of fun to be in. We all kept each other on our toes, bust each other up a little bit. It was all in good spirit. We’d keep each other honest and I love those guys.”
Garoppolo seemingly was a good student-turned-mentor for young 49ers quarterbacks Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is just from watching Jimmy,” Mullens said. “How calm and cool, collected he is in the most crucial moments, and just the way he handles his daily routine, some of the exercises that he does. Just the way that he handles himself, communicates with teammates. I figure he got a lot of that stuff from New England. It’s definitely helped our team here.”
Garoppolo’s 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV. Brady shot Garoppolo a text after the 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, congratulating the young QB and imploring him to beat the Chiefs.
Garoppolo was trying to come for Brady’s job, so it would have been understandable if there were issues between the two signal-callers. But if there was any issue from Brady, then Garoppolo wasn’t aware of it and the veteran hid it well.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images