Jimmy Garoppolo is back in the spotlight again, but this time it was a former teammate, Julian Edelman, criticizing his previous Patriots teammate.
Fair or not, the injury reputation is something that has followed Jimmy G from his days with the New England Patriots, and San Francisco learned this reputation the hard way, first in 2018 with his torn ACL, then again with multiple ankle sprains in 2020 and even more in 2021 with both shoulder and thumb setbacks.
A year ago, one of Garoppolo’s former Patriots teammates, now-retired tight end Martellus Bennett, threw some serious shade at the quarterback’s toughness from their experience together in 2016, saying:
"Bro, we lost two games. One of them was because Jimmy Garoppolo was being a b—-. He decided not to play right before the game. Jacoby (Brissett) came out and played with a f—ed up thumb and played his heart out, but Jimmy was just being a b—- about it all.That’s why he … you can’t win with a b—- for a quarterback, first of all. That was the whole thing with him: He didn’t want to come out and do anything because his agent was trying to protect his body or some s— like that. Which, I can’t fault him for that. But like, you should have made that decision on Thursday. Now it’s Sunday."
For reference, Garoppolo missed two would-be starts with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that year with the Pats.
Julian Edelman is the latest to criticize Jimmy Garoppolo
Appearing on the I Am Athlete Podcast, former New England wide receiver Julian Edelman, who played alongside Garoppolo for each of the latter’s three seasons there, also called into question Garoppolo’s toughness.
"[Garoppolo] hurts his non-throwing shoulder, his left shoulder, and Jacoby came in, led us to a win. … We go into Week 4, and I guess Jimmy was practicing and then decided not to play. And Jacoby played with no ligaments in his thumb, which you can’t do that as a quarterback. You can’t grip.And if it’s your left [shoulder for Garoppolo], a lot of guys got mad about it. I’m not going to lie, I got mad about it. I sacrifice my body all day long. I was taking shots for this, numbing up that, ribs, broken ribs, shoulders, Grade 3, hanging on by limps just to play, and I can understand why Marty thinks like that."
Sounds like it wasn’t just Bennett who was frustrated with Garoppolo opting not to play.
Evaluating Julian Edelman’s comments about Jimmy Garoppolo
The kneejerk reaction might be to cite all this as evidence that Garoppolo is “soft.” And maybe in a season or two, some of Jimmy G’s soon-to-be former 49ers teammates may echo similar sentiments.
We’ll see on that, even though the overwhelming majority of chatter from the Niners’ locker room has been positive about the quarterback.
Garoppolo played through multiple injuries last year, including torn ligaments in his thumb that forced him to wear a brace during the playoffs, and he also suffered that shoulder injury in the Wild Card win over the Dallas Cowboys before playing two additional postseason games before San Francisco was eliminated by the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.
Perhaps Garoppolo “gutting it out” amid injuries alleviates some of those prior allegations, but there’s a business element, too.
That part where Bennett said “his agent was trying to protect his body” carries some weight here, as Garoppolo was still playing on that cheap rookie contract back in 2016 yet was poised to cash in on a lucrative deal in the not-so-distant future.
Turns out, that deal ended up being with the 49ers heading into 2018, a five-year extension worth $137.5 million, meaning the quarterback’s financial security was attained.
Simply put, playing through injury in 2020 and 2021 after netting that contract is vastly different than risking serious injury on a rookie contract.
At any rate, Garoppolo largely absolved the questions about his toughness, playing through injuries in 2021 and into the playoffs, but it’s not likely Edelman and Bennett are going to change their minds anytime soon.