America at Large: All eyes on Garoppolo in advance of new NFL campaign
Tabloid spotlight on San Francisco’s quarterback after date with adult film star
Jimmy Garoppolo: “Even social media, I’m not out there a ton. But my life’s looked at differently. I’m under a microscope.” Photo: by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
As August beckons each year, America grows tired of yawning at eternal baseball games and turns its eyes towards the more violent charms of the NFL, the behemoth that dwarfs all other sports in this country.
With competitive fixtures still more than a month away, hours of airtime and miles of column inches are devoted to predictions and prognostications about the coming season. Tiresome fodder for inveterate gamblers and Fantasy Football saddoes jonesing for information that might better fuel their habits, all manner of sages and spoofers pretend to be able to read the runes.
“I can promise the 49ers that they will make the Super Bowl and win,” said Kiara Mia, adding her voice to the chorus last week, “because everything I touch turns to gold”.
Even amid so much noise, this statement made national headlines because Mia based her confident assertion on a recent dinner date with San Francisco’s quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. And, perhaps, because she’s not usually known for her opinions on who will lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Star of Keeping up with Kiara Mia, a hardcore porn spoof of the Kardashian franchise, she has featured in dozens of other adult films, most of whose titles are unsuitable for publication but usually include some slang for parts of the female anatomy and a clever combination of the words big, dirty, huge, and wet.
The contents of the 41-year-old’s extensive back catalogue have received a forensic re-examination since footage emerged of her getting up close and personal with the handsome Garoppolo, 15 years her junior and one of the most eligible bachelors in the nation. Of course, the age difference is not the issue here. Her day job is what has caused such consternation. At least in some quarters.
“He’s got a freaky side,” said Jason Whitlock, a once-respected columnist turned television bloviator. “A real freaky side. It’s going to be like: Is he distracted? Does he have some kind of addiction issue? Is he Tiger Woods? If he doesn’t play well, all those questions are going to be asked.”
Some have poked fun at Whitlock (who nicknamed the player “Jimmy G-String”) and other easily offended types deciding it’s somehow unseemly for the face of an NFL franchise to date an adult film star. In a way, the reaction divides along generational lines.
The younger demographic appears less hung up about pornography because they came of age in an era when it was so easily available that they regard it, rightly or wrongly, as part of mainstream culture. Not to mention this whole episode is backgrounded by the ongoing drama of Stormy Daniels, a peer of Mia’s, who has turned into a national heroine for her part in further exposing the charlatan in the White House.
“Life is different now,” said Garoppolo, addressing the issue at the opening of the 49ers’ training camp last week.
“My life off the field, I’ve never been very public with things. Even social media, I’m not out there a ton. But my life’s looked at differently. I’m under a microscope and, like Kyle [Shanahan, his head coach] said, it’s a good learning experience. You just have to take it in stride. It is what it is.”
Even before becoming the stuff of tabloid legend, Garoppolo was set to be one of the stories of the forthcoming campaign. Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, he had to overcome his mother’s initial reservations about him and his brothers playing football because of the physical dangers.
Even then, he was a late bloomer as a quarterback, initially refusing the job as a teenager because it would have meant usurping his best pal. He eventually started at Eastern Illinois University, an off-Broadway location where he still managed to end up on the radar of the New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick.
A second-round pick in the 2014 Draft, he spent three-and-a-half years understudying Tom Brady, whom he seemed destined to one day succeed. That all changed abruptly last Halloween when, apparently against Belichick’s wishes, he was traded to the 49ers, a hapless team who had won just once in 11 games.
“Baby Brady”, as he has been dubbed, led them to victory in their remaining five outings (receiving a congratulatory text after each one from the not normally sentimental Belichick). His performances were rewarded with a five-year contract worth a potential $137.5m, then the largest in NFL history.
Gaudy enough numbers, and recent reports that his is now the second best-selling shirt in the league make light of worries besetting commentators that his friendship with Kiara Mia might be detrimental to his marketability.
Aside from being such a good quarterback that there are admittedly overexcited whispers he could one day surpass the man to whom he was apprenticed, he’s something of an advertiser’s dream, his good looks presenting a challenge to feature writers, constantly struggling for different ways to describe his chiselled jaw.
It says much for America and the NFL’s curious grasp of morality that Garoppolo’s date garnered more negative press than Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero being linked to Julius Edelman, another Patriot, getting a ban for performance-enhancing substances. Sex is way worse, obviously, than steroids.
“Jimmy and I had an amazing dinner,” said Kiara Mia, “and he treated me with so much respect, and class.”
Which is, surely, all that matters.