Jimmy Garoppolo Is Superman in Disguise

Tom Brady is yesterday's news. Meet the new boss, in one of five cover stories for the B/R POWER 50—a celebration of 2018's most influential people in sports culture



Ten hours after Bill Belichick called to tell him he’d been traded to the Niners, Jimmy Garoppolo almost died. The Patriots had received a better offer from the Browns—multiple high-round draft picks—but Belichick believed San Francisco offered more possibilities for the young quarterback; he settled for a second-rounder. When a report surfaced that Tom Brady played a role in the exit of his own protégé, Garoppolo felt grateful that he didn’t have to answer questions in public, high-tailing straight outta Boston. “Parts of it were true, parts of it I knew weren’t true, parts I didn’t know if they were true or not,” Garoppolo says now. “I appreciated that Coach Belichick put me in the best situation—you hear those horror stories about guys finding out from … Twitter.”

It was a bye week, and he had planned on going home to Illinois for his 26th birthday. He was planning a post-Super Bowl trip with the guys. He was planning to soak in more as Brady’s backup—sure, he’d only started those two games for the Pats during the Deflategate suspension, but deep down, he felt he was better than the greatest of all time, that he could one day beat out Brady for the starting job in New England. Hell, he’d even planned on moving to a new place at the Seaport District in Boston for the 2018-19 season, because Jimmy’s a planner. “Everything went a little sideways on that plan, but it worked out,” he tells Bleacher Report. “I planned every scenario that I could think of in my head.” Jimmy plans and plans, then plans some more.

All of a sudden, it was 5:30 on Halloween morning, and Jimmy—the linebacker turned quarterback who used to wear K-Swiss sneakers into the ground and spit Weezy verses from Tha Carter III in his ’91 Buick Century—was rushing to the airport to catch the Niners’ private plane to the Bay. He was running on not enough sleep, a suitcase full of unfolded clothes and his iPhone blowing up in the backseat of a limousine merging onto I-95.

That’s when the unexpected nightmare began. Another car exited the highway, skidded off the side of the ramp, turned straight toward Jimmy’s door—straight toward the man who is now the third-highest-paid player in the National Football League.

Jimmy stared at the headlights outside his window. For a young man whose superpower is self-confidence, whose only insecurity is the temporary absence of perfection, Jimmy Garoppolo, once more, didn’t know what could possibly happen next.

He is hard to miss, Jimmy is, with that Superman chisel and all, a comparison he’s heard multiple times. “I thank my parents for the good looks,” he says with a laugh, a denim jacket over his pink T-shirt, with fresh-out-the-box Tinker Hatfield Jordan 3s hovering across the parking lot this June evening. “It’s the Italian tan, I guess.” Garoppolo is one of those people who immediately make you conscious of what you’re wearing, whether you have bags under your eyes or whether there’s a stain on your shirt.

At the front door of Fleming’s steakhouse here in Santa Clara, hopeful eyes dart toward him instantly. The mood of Niners fans has shifted dramatically in the eight months since the trade for their present and future QB. And as our waiter says after whisking Jimmy into a private back room, delivering a New York strip, medium-plus: “You know how they say a good quarterback makes everybody better? You literally proved that.”

“I tried,” Jimmy says with a laugh.

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After being traded to the 49ers for a second-round pick in October, Jimmy Garoppolo signed, at the time, the biggest contract in NFL history. “I try to envision everything,” he tells B/R in his first extended interviews about his personal life. “I like to stay ahead, you know?” (Photograph by Joon Lee)

People take a glance up and down at Jimmy and see the ever-white smile, the comic-book jawline, the Italian tan and a photogeneity that makes even an unflattering fan selfie impossible to take. They watch a mic’d-up video of him leading the Niners on a game-winning drive and leave comments like this: “Tom Brady really birthed his son and alley-ooped him to the 49ers.”

“Baby Brady,” another commenter says.

“I’ve said that stuff since I was a little kid,” Jimmy says. “Creepy when you put it all back to back like that. He rubbed off on me, I guess.”

Because the Patriots prevented reporters from talking to Garoppolo’s family and friends, the perception of the San Francisco 49ers star has been shaped by assumptions, infatuations and the scarce public information known about him. (His Wikipedia page does not have a “Personal Life” section, just stats and stats and dollar signs.) Fans and haters alike wonder out loud: Is Jimmy Garoppolo really that perfect? That humble? The second coming of Brady, on and off the field? Or is he more like Graduation-era Kanye: Dude, you really still trying to convince us you’re some kind of underdog?

Spend the weekend with Jimmy Garoppolo, though, talk to Mom, Dad, the three brothers, the coaches, the GM, and then help him find a new house with that record-setting contract—five years at $137.5 million with a signing bonus of $7 million, a guaranteed roster bonus of $28 million and a base salary of $6.2 million just for this season alone—and you’ll find that the monotonous march up Mount Perfection is more tumultuous than it looks, that things don’t ever really go according to plan…especially when you’re not just Tom Brady’s mysterious backup on the Patriots anymore.

The first time Jimmy Garoppolo had the chance to play quarterback, he turned it down. Jimmy didn’t start playing football until sixth grade, but he was already 6’2” by then, so he started off at tight end and linebacker. On offense, he soon became a running back. Jimmy liked the ball in his hands. Jimmy likes control.

His Pop Warner head coach, Bob Viti, frequently called a play usually saved for desperation time in Madden: the half-back pass, wherein the quarterback—who was Jimmy’s best friend growing up, Dan Lowry—would hand off the ball to Jimmy, who would chuck it down the field. Coach Viti liked to call this play because it was always—always—a touchdown. It led Coach Viti to approach his star running back about a position change, to QB. But every time the coach asked, the answer from 11-year-old Jimmy was no.

“He never told me why,” Viti says.

This is why: Jimmy had lived a few streets away from Dan Lowry his entire life—Jimmy’s family has lived in the same house, on the same cul de sac, in the same suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois, since before he was born—and simply did not want to take away his best friend’s job. Yes, Jimmy was that humble. “I didn’t know about quarterbacking,” Jimmy says. “Nobody in my family had ever done it.”

The Garoppolos. From left: Billy, Tony Jr., Denise, Jimmy, Tony Sr. and Mike. (Photograph by Joon Lee)

Jimmy grew up the third of four sons to Denise and Tony Sr., who left for work as an electrician before 6:30 in the morning to put enough food on the table to feed his boys but clocked out at 4:30 to make sure he could coach their sports teams.

“[Jimmy] really just flowed with the way everything went,” Denise says. “So on vacations, he really never caused any kind of a problem. My other sons were more boisterous. Jimmy wasn’t.”

Those around him say he’s always been that level-headed. But he was still a linebacker until 2008, his junior year at Rolling Meadows High, when he gave up track and baseball to play quarterback and point guard. Jeff Christensen, a former NFL QB and private coach, saw Jimmy’s long release—the remnants of pitching in Little League—and began playing him tapes of other gunslingers. Naturally, 16-year-old Jimmy gravitated toward the quarterback who had just set all the passing records, who had just lost his first Super Bowl in four attempts before turning 31, the QB who was the star on most of the game tape: Tom Freaking Brady.

“It wasn’t even like I was a Patriots fan,” Jimmy says, “but seeing him do that, it was flawless. I was like, ‘OK, that’s how I should throw.’”

By his senior year, Jimmy felt comfortable under center, finishing high school with 3,136 passing yards and 25 touchdowns in 19 games at quarterback. Christensen, recognizing his student’s potential, called up the offensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois. And even though there was barely enough data or game tape to put together a firm scouting report, EIU trusted Christensen and gave Jimmy a scholarship.

Garoppolo with his father, Tony Sr. “There’s always someone working harder than you,” he frequently told his son. (Photograph by Joon Lee)

His routines had been sharpened. He almost exclusively ate chicken, spinach and rice for every dinner. He listened to YouTube motivational speeches at the gym. He memorized Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne, front to back, after he learned it was stuck in the CD player of his Buick. And he listed off workouts to his dad: lifting, stretching, throwing repetition drills. Tony Sr. would nod along, listening to his son’s low-key bravado.

“You think you worked hard?” Tony Sr. would ask.

“I think I put in some good work,” Jimmy replied.

“There’s always someone working harder than you,” his father would tell 18-year-old Jimmy, then walk away.

The words still leave Jimmy shaking his head.

“He’d just sneak it in,” Jimmy says now. “I would just be like, ‘What the fuck, man?’”

Eastern Illinois wanted Jimmy Garoppolo to transfer. He’d expected to redshirt as a freshman in 2010, throwing out fake signals from the sideline with a headset not connected to anything at all. By the fourth game, he was starting. “Nobody told us there was an NFL quarterback sitting there,” the offensive coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, says now.

As an assistant at Baylor, Dino Babers had watched Robert Griffin III win the Heisman, and he believed another mobile quarterback would fit the new offensive scheme he brought to EIU as head coach in 2012. But Babers wanted to watch Garoppolo throw a bit, getting a first glimpse at spring ball. It took five passes for the coach to be sure.

“This guy shouldn’t be here,” Babers said.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” a staffer told him at the EIU stadium, which seats 10,000.

“No, he shouldn’t be here, as in, he shouldn’t be at I-AA,” Babers said. “There’s a whole bunch of coaches who should be fired for missing this guy. He’s really, really good.”

From five spots back on the depth chart, Garoppolo quickly passed Eastern Illinois records set by Tony Romo and Sean Payton. (Photograph by Stephen Haas/AP)

Jimmy didn’t own a car in college, so he would walk 30 minutes from his place to the football facility and still be the first one there, hours before the rest of his teammates. The day after a game, Jimmy was at the facility by 7 a.m., breaking down tape. If there was a 6 a.m. workout, Jimmy would be there by 5:30, lifting weights. And he was still in routine by sundown, cooking up chicken on a George Foreman Grill—yes, with a side of spinach and rice. His teammates called him “Leaves.”

Jimmy had started keeping a small journal in his dorm room, jotting down the school’s passing records—single-season and career, held entirely by Eastern Illinois legends Tony Romo and Sean Payton—during freshman year. Two seasons later, as a junior, he’d already broken some.

“And, obviously, he got the girl attraction,” says John Wurm, an EIU linebacker and Jimmy’s current best friend. “It was ridiculous. Jim never led a girl on, though, or dated a girl.”

“I definitely got attention just by being next to him,” says Jerone Williams, an EIU D-lineman known as Juice to his buddies.

“Pretty small school,” says Niko Foltys, Jimmy’s former roommate and teammate. “Word gets out.”

“Jim’s the most laid-back, cool dude you'll probably ever meet,” says Pete Houlihan, an EIU cornerback and former roommate. “On the football field? Complete opposite.”

“Historical schools … put these guys on pedestals, and it was unfathomable to us that Jimmy could play with those guys,” says Adam Gristick, another former roommate and now the linebackers coach at EIU. “Jimmy was the guy from day one.”

Jimmy’s squad—Wurm, Juice, Niko, Pete and Gristick—would keep him in check with nightly games of Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. (He played as Samus.) They would make fun of his white K-Swiss sneakers, a pair of which he bought before every year of college, and called him “Swagless Swiss.” (“My freshman year, I bought some Vans and they asked me if I was a skater,” Jimmy says. “I was just like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. Somebody help me.’”)

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Jimmy’s squad. From left, Jerone Williams, Pete Houlihan, Garoppolo, Adam Gristick, John Wurm and Niko Foltys at the NFL draft in 2014. (Photograph courtesy of John Wurm)

For the 2014 NFL draft, Jimmy invited his roommates to New York City, registering all five of them as his brothers. The night before, the group came over to his hotel room, which featured a king-size bed, a wheel-in cot and a lumpy couch. Gristick, the 227-pound linebacker, sat down on the couch, only for Jimmy to give him a gentle nudge. “Hey, Gristick, you’re in my bed,” Jimmy said. “That’s where I’m sleeping tonight.” Yes, Jimmy had ceded the bed and the cot to his older brothers, and yes, Jimmy Garoppolo is still that kind of guy.

On Day 1 of the draft, Roger Goodell approached the Garoppolo table in the green room. Juice Williams, who is 6’7”, black and clearly not Italian, looked up at the commissioner. “Eight brothers, huh?” Goodell said with a laugh. (The NFL disputes this.)

On Day 2, when Jimmy expected to be selected, he walked into the bathroom of Radio City Music Hall and felt a tap on his shoulder. It was former Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Willie McGinest, who was there to announce the team’s pick.

“Garoppolo, right?” McGinest asked.

“Yes, nice to meet you,” Garoppolo said.

“I’ve got a feeling I’m about to call your name here in a bit,” McGinest said, 40 minutes before the Pats’ second-round pick.

“I thought he was BS’ing with me, being a nice guy,” Jimmy says now.

Three picks before New England went on the clock, Jimmy received a call on his iPhone—location: Massachusetts. “Oh, it’s the Patriots!” he thought. He took the call and Bill Belichick was on the line.

“Everyone was making noises, and I couldn’t hear half the things,” Jimmy says. “It didn’t matter what was being said. I made sure to say, ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.’”

The first time Jimmy Garoppolo met Tom Brady was during a predraft visit. They shook hands, exchanged pleasantries, then disappeared into other meetings. Over the next three-and-a-half seasons in Foxborough, he mostly tried to stay out of the GOAT’s way. “I was going to watch and literally absorb everything I could from him without being an annoyance,” he says. “I didn’t want to ask a ton of questions. I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. You have to play the politics a little bit.”

As Jimmy’s oldest brother, Tony Jr., says: “You gotta look up the ladder and see who’s done it well, and I think he just tried to duplicate as much as he could at what Tom did, and that’s not going out too late on the weekend and getting in trouble.”

Brady and his backup did, however, develop a competitive relationship. After practice, the two quarterbacks would often play the bucket game, which requires landing a football into a trash can in the back corner of the end zone. “There would be days where one of us would win and you wouldn’t talk to the other for a little while,” Jimmy says. “We’d be fine the next day, but it was one of the best things for me. We would push each other and we got two Super Bowls out of it.”

Jimmy spent most days at Gillette Stadium and did not keep any food in his home. During the offseason, Brady would call once a week to check in on his progress, ask him how he’d been working to get better. In the three full seasons with Jimmy backing him up, Brady produced arguably the best stretch of his career, completing 65.1 percent of passes, throwing for 97 touchdowns against 18 interceptions and posting a QB rating of 103.1…all at ages 37 to 39. (Through the Patriots and the agent he shares with Garoppolo, Brady declined to comment for this story.)

“The competitiveness between the two of us was very similar. If I’m playing my best friend in one-on-one basketball, if we are both into it, by the end, we are going to hate each other,” Jimmy says. “That’s how it is. All the good competitors have that. We got along, but there were always times where we wanted to kill each other. It was a healthy, competitive relationship.”

“We got along, but there were always times where we wanted to kill each other.”


While Jimmy certainly learned a lot on the field, he received the most advice from Brady off it. He has not adopted Brady’s notoriously stringent diet (“Let me tell you, avocado ice cream is not bad,” Jimmy admits), but he picked up tricks of a modern celebrity life, from the finances to the locker room and, of course, the women. “I can’t tell you that,” Jimmy says with a wide smile, when pressed about veteran dating tips from the husband of one of the world’s most famous supermodels. “That’s top-secret stuff.”

And in New England, you try to not piss off the other GOAT, either. Belichick was a supporter, to be sure, but he and Garoppolo kept it strictly professional. “There was no BS’ing around,” Jimmy says. “I related to him in that way, as crazy as it sounds. He’s different than he is with the media. He has dry humor—he would say some stuff that was borderline mean. He would put up a lowlight clip every once in a while, and it was always your worst throws from practice. He would put it up there, and you already knew what was about to happen. Any position, there are so many people on the outside hyping you up and saying good things, that everyone needs to be brought back down.” (Belichick also declined to comment for this story.)

“It’s like when I go to New England, when I first got there, I thought in my head, ‘I’m better than this dude.’ It was always a quiet confidence.” (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) 

Jimmy knew he could be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and by the end of his first season, he was itching for that opportunity. Sometimes, Jimmy would joke with his buddy Wurm, a Browns fan, that he’d become the signal-caller in Cleveland. “Maybe I’ll be in Ohio in no time,” Jimmy would tell his best friend. Part of him hoped that the chance would come in New England. His confident side thought he could—maybe one day—beat out Brady on the depth chart. It was, after all, the one best-laid plan he could control: Only Jimmy Garoppolo was going to steal Tom Brady’s job.

“I’ve always had that mindset,” Jimmy says. “I knew that [Brady] was better than me in my first day in the NFL. Naturally, you’re the rookie and he’s the veteran, but you have to have that mindset, that you want to be the starter.”

“Even when I was a little kid, my brothers, whenever we would play, I would literally always think I was going to win. I wouldn’t, but I would always think that. It’s like when I go to New England, when I first got there, I thought in my head, ‘I’m better than this dude.’”

“But in your head, you believe you’re better than Tom Brady?” I ask.

“It was always a quiet confidence,” Jimmy says. “I would never speak that.”

I ask again: “But you believed that you were the best dude there?”

“Yeah, you believe in yourself,” Jimmy says. “That’s the best way to put it.”

I check his confidence one more time: “So you’re going up to Tom Brady and saying, ‘I’m better than you’?”

“I’m not stupid. You have to pick your battles, but I had belief in myself that I could do certain things, and it’s always worked out pretty well. It will always be in me, that drive that comes from my dad telling me that someone is always working harder, that I’m always in last place and I need to catch up to someone else.”

Last offseason, San Francisco’s flashy new GM and head coach, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, had looked at every scenario to acquire a franchise quarterback. Colin Kaepernick was not going to come back, that much was decided. For Shanahan, none of the attention on the Niners’ protesting quarterback would affect his next decision.

“I did not think about any of the [Kaepernick] stuff,” Shanahan tells B/R. “You’re going to go through a lot of tough times regardless of how good you are. I want someone who can execute the system, has the skill set to manage a win, and I don’t really put anything else into that.”

Shanahan brought with him a dynamic offense, and in clip after clip of QBs who could shine in his complex playbook, Jimmy’s quick release and quicker decisions kept popping up. So Lynch asked about Brady and Jimmy before last season, but Belichick rebuffed on both. Shanahan had expected to wait a year and go hard after Kirk Cousins this offseason and contemplated spending a first- or second-round pick in the quarterback-heavy 2018 draft if all else fell through. But when Belichick came to him at the trade deadline in October, asking if he wanted Garoppolo for a second-round pick, the team jumped at the opportunity.

Even after the trade, however, Lynch and Shanahan emphasized a very specific—and surprising—point to the Niners brass: Just because the franchise had given up a second-rounder for Jimmy...didn’t mean he was immediately the franchise QB.

“A lot of people would say if you’re going to trade a second-round pick, you’ve gotta be committed to this being your guy,” Lynch says. “This was not the way we wanted to talk about it. We had an opportunity to possibly have our guy, but we wanted him to come in. That was worth the risk.”

Garoppolo with Lynch, the GM who targeted him from the beginning. "A lot of people would say if you're going to trade a second-round pick, you've gotta be committed to this being your guy," Lynch says. "This was not the way we wanted to talk about it." (Photograph by Tim Warner/Getty Images) 

Shanahan adds: “It would be irresponsible to get someone like that and then commit to him long-term without seeing more of him, especially when you’re in the position we thought we were going to be in, with free agency and Kirk becoming available and the draft.”

Lynch quickly became convinced the Niners had found their man, but it took Shanahan three Garoppolo wins, including a 381-yard, one-touchdown, 72.1-completion-percentage performance against Tennessee, to be finally sold. By the end of the season, five wins, a 67.4 completion percentage and a 96.2 passer rating later, there was not even a decision to be made. Everyone wanted Clark Kent in California for a long time to come.

“I didn’t want to play around with the franchise tag because it’s just a distraction that you don’t need,” Jimmy says. “There are so many things that go into it outside of football. Now that we have this set in stone for years, it’s done, and there’s nothing to worry about.”

The pressure is certainly on now, especially with Jimmy’s newly minted bank account balance. “His first interception last year, he didn’t know the system and had every excuse in the world,” Shanahan says. “But when you get paid like that, you don’t know how people are going to react, and the first interception is going to be different.”

Lynch, who played in New England for his final season, has noticed the Brady influence. “That mindset, that you’re not going to just sit back and learn from Tom and say, ‘I’m going to beat out Tom,’ that works both ways,” Lynch says. “Having a guy as talented as Jimmy around—Tom is Tom Brady, and I don’t know if he ever thought about it, but it probably made [Brady] better. That’s what the great ones do. Every little thing, they draw from it, and I can see that with Jimmy.”

Shanahan now has exactly what he wanted out of a franchise star: someone who isn’t going to wait around for an opportunity—someone who’s going to go out and get what he wants.

“I know New England wanted to keep him there and keep him on ice before Tom eventually retired … but what was exciting for me was that New England knew he wasn’t going to re-sign there,” Shanahan says. “He wanted to start and he wanted to play. He forced their hand. ... It would’ve been cool to play for Belichick and do that stuff and be in that system once Brady retires, but he didn’t want to wait. That’s the guy you want.”

Two years ago, Jimmy and his squad from Eastern Illinois reunited in Vegas, as college buddies do, just another pack of sentimental bros waiting in line at the club. The trip gave them an opportunity to remember back after wins on game days, when EIU fans would come over to their place to party, like that time a cowboy riding a horse ended up on their front lawn.

This past March, the roommates returned for another guys trip, and this time, fans were waiting in line to get a photo with Jimmy. He opted out, because one photo turns into hundreds, and the line never stops. The former roommates hit up 1 OAK, where Lil Uzi Vert was scheduled to perform. When Uzi finally hit the stage, he performed one song before coming over to the EIU squad’s table, finishing the rest of his set with the spotlight squarely on the quarterback.

“That was probably the one big moment for me,” says Wurm. “I realized, ‘Wow, Jimmy really is the biggest celebrity in here.’”

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Garoppolo and his squad in Las Vegas this March. “It’s crazy to think about it, not expecting to be in Vinny’s situation,” he says of the Entourage character, “but it’s slowly turning into that.” (Photograph courtesy of John Wurm)

In college, Jimmy and Wurm watched Entourage together—every season, three or four times—and Jimmy never really related to Vincent Chase, the show’s movie-star protagonist. But now he’s got talk-show hosts screaming about him in the morning, cornerbacks talking shit about him in the afternoon and the paparazzi following him around at night. Brady and Gisele Bündchen once organized a double date with Garoppolo and a model friend of theirs, but the relationship did not work out. “It’s crazy to think about it, not expecting to be in Vinny’s situation, but it’s slowly turning into that,” Jimmy says. Five weeks later, the paparazzi will catch Jimmy on a date with an adult film star, not unlike his Entourage counterpart.

In May, TMZ had posted a video of Jimmy outside a San Jose bar with a young woman. It’s the type of attention he’s still getting used to, even if he makes his friends read the thirsty Instagram comments. “You’re not even sure if it’s a real person,” Jimmy says. “You just pretend they aren’t. … The comments are the weirdest part. The DMs are even crazier.” When TMZ claimed he had a girlfriend two months before, friends congratulated Jimmy on the relationship. “It was news to me,” he says.

Oh, Jimmy Garoppolo did not die, by the way. As the swerving car crossed the median of the Massachusetts interstate and kept barreling toward him on the morning after the trade, Jimmy’s limo driver bailed into a ditch. “Could you imagine that story,” the driver said to Jimmy, “if we got hit leaving here?”

“Holy shit, what just happened?” Jimmy asked.

What does someone do right after he almost dies, 10 hours after being traded out of Tom Brady’s shadow? If you’re as ambitious as this guy, you put on your noise-canceling Bose headphones, turn up the country music and study your new team’s playbook, right there on your iPhone. “I had texts going off every second, but I couldn’t respond,” Jimmy says. “It was my chance.”

Now, with a signing bonus to spend, he’s deciding between a Tesla or a Maserati and looking to rent a new place. He doesn’t have enough time or experience with the area to buy a home just yet, because he doesn’t do a whole lot with his time other than play football. He likes to golf, but he’s more engrossed by locker room matches of Fortnite. He’s figuring out what to do with all the endorsement offers, as both Nike and Adidas try to sign him as a face for their football brands. He used to be the quiet one who passed on the quarterback job. Now, when one of the richest guys in the NFL returns to his childhood home in Arlington Heights, his unwavering, deep tenor voice shakes the walls like an audible call aiming for the back corner of the end zone.

The Garoppolos, house-hunting in Northern California. (Photograph by Joon Lee)

So when Jimmy goes pad-hunting in San Jose with his family on a Saturday afternoon in June, his dad asks the real estate agent about the vibe of the gated community.

“It’s very quiet here,” says Jimmy’s brother Mike.

“Seems like it,” Jimmy says.

“Once someone finds out you’re here, it’s gonna change,” says the real estate agent.

He’s pretty famous, Jimmy is, with the NFL’s second-highest-selling jersey this offseason and, for a hot minute, its biggest contract ever. He’s not just talented and charming, you know. Technically, he’s still undefeated as a starter. “Don’t jinx me,” Jimmy says.

Some gray hairs have started coming in on the sides of his head, though. Turns out, perfection doesn’t last forever. So what else could Jimmy Garoppolo want? Well, exactly what you’d expect if Superman were the quarterback of your favorite team.

“Super Bowls. That’s every football guy’s dream. That’s why we play the game. We’re just trying to do it one day at a time.” Sure enough, Jimmy pauses and laughs before looking dead ahead. “I know it sounds super Patriots cliché, but it really is true—like what the hell? Try to get better every day.”