Jimmy G & the Real Life Troll

If we’re hanging up the cleats on Jimmy Garoppolo, I guess I’d like to thank him.
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Someone very close to me has become my real-life troll.

If you don’t know what a troll is, you clearly don’t have a Twitter account. And maybe that makes you one of lucky ducks of this world. Thanks to 2020, the social media pool has been poorly maintained. Picture a scummy film atop your family pond in the backyard: green algae and tons of toads clogging the once perfectly chlorinated haven.

And now, the only person crazy enough to plunge into that cesspool is a dirty little troll who thrives off the grunge and misfortune of such an icky place.

Urban dictionary defines the word troll as the following:

· “Someone who deliberately pisses people off online to get a reaction.”

· “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or a message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”

So in theory, a real-life troll is basically someone who does the same thing, but in an even sneakier way. They usually pretend to support you, but in most cases, they take a stab at you any chance they can get.

Now, I don’t want to throw this person under the bus because they mean the world to me. However, she has made me feel so small the last few weeks that it’s been difficult to continue chasing a dream which seems to upset so many people. The Twitter trolls have come out in full force lately and I’ve been consumed by self-doubt all through the holidays. I wanted to hop on live shows every day, but my bed felt much safer than an online space where cruel minds try to rip apart an empath.

Let’s be real for a moment: I portray myself as a strong, badass woman in sports who has overcome an insane amount of adversity and been super open about it. I know on the surface, I look like I have it all together and I’m living my best life.

You want to know a secret? As I write this, I’m crumbling inside.

I’ve worked really hard for the last ten years ever since I began attending university to obtain my degree in Journalism. I had three jobs just to afford my courses and rent. Most days, I’d spend my mornings working as a manager of a tuxedo rental company. I’d then drive to uni for 4pm to attend night classes that lasted roughly two hours. Then I’d drive back to PoCo to work at a pub until 4am. The next morning, I did it all over again when my alarm went off at 8:00am.

The most impressive part about all of this is that during my intense work/school schedule, I was suffering through an abusive relationship. I tried to kill myself not once, but twice. I never told anyone about the second time, though. And there are a couple other major events that took place within that same time frame. I’ll save those for a rainy day.

Anyhoo, I did that for six years until I finally graduated with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism. I was the first in my family to do so and I had never been prouder, yet also relieved. The bad days were extremely horrible, I’m not going to lie. It took a lot of strength to keep going and that’s why when someone puts me down for being where I am today, it breaks my heart.

If only we could all choose empathy towards others, maybe then we wouldn’t constantly hold a knife to each other's throat.

I can be a hippie at times, I know. I just see the good in everyone and it can be a major weakness. Not everyone holds the same values—even our own blood can sometimes change colours.

When I started writing for Sports Illustrated's All49ers, I felt this huge sense of worth. Like I’m finally where I belong. It’s been my dream to cover the 49ers ever since 2013 when my love for football exploded into every chamber of my heart. My friends and family have all watched me grind for years, so you can only imagine how amazing it felt to finally make it. In my own little way, of course.

But just like the Space Shuttle Challenger crash on January 28th, 1986, my excitement turned to distraught in mere hours. Will this person in my life reach out and say congrats? I thought.

Days went by and she never did.

Life gave me yet another obstacle to climb, but this one hit too close to home. It still feels like my sense of worth hinders on how much this person’s admiration means to me. Maybe that’s my issue, though.

Maybe the moment I stop caring so much about what the real-life and online trolls think, I might truly find myself.

Life is like a Dr. Seuss book. It’s full of riddles and rhymes; even though the words written on each page are the same, each new set of eyes will interpret the meaning in a different way. The same can be said about the 49ers season and constant speculations about who will be our QB1.

Just today, Jimmy Garoppolo was asked if John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have reassured him if he’ll be the quarterback for the 49ers next season and the entire Twitterverse lost their mind over his response. Every blogger and beat writer has cracked the code on the cryptic message hidden within Jimmy Jawline’s sweet nothings, so naturally the trolls took the bait.

This tweet really resonated with me, though.

We sometimes react so quickly to facts in front of us just to be the first one with a “hot take” because heaven forbid we don’t get over 1,000 likes on a tweet about Jimmy Garoppolo’s future. We, at times, forget to give substance to the words that are being uttered to the media.

I haven’t wiggled my way into a 49ers presser just yet, but rest assured when the day comes, I’ll ask the questions that truly matter.

Hey Jimmy, do you like…cheese?

In all seriousness, I want to tell stories that go beyond the typical headline and I’ve always wanted to ask Jimmy about his relationship with his family. He seems very close with his siblings and that’s something I’m a little envious about. Maybe he could even give me some tips on how to balance the trolls, both on-and-offline.

We don’t always have answers to the questions asked of us. And honestly, that’s okay. Sometimes we need the question to be asked to really decide the answer on our own.

Yesterday’s game gave me a sense of hope that I had been missing for the past few weeks. I posted a silly photo of myself in some ridiculous socks that read, “If you can read this” on one foot and “Shh! The 49ers game is on.” I then held a tv clicker in my hand and looked super pumped to change the channel to my team’s final matchup against the rival I love to hate, the Seattle Seahawks.

With all the buzz in the media and beyond, it quite possibly could have been Jimmy Garoppolo’s final game on the 49ers roster. And that made me sad.

Robert Saleh went out with a bang and the defense held Russell Wilson to zero touchdowns through three quarters of play. In the fourth, Mr. Unlimited threw two TDs to our Achilles heel, Tyler Lockett. It’s only fitting that he locked up a franchise record 100th catch of the season, paired with another career high of 10 touchdowns—he matched his career high—and became only the sixth player in Seahawks history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

On the other end, offensive monster DK Metcalf broke the record for most receiving yards, finishing with a total of 1,303. He surpassed Steve Largent’s 35-year-old record of 1,287. Good for both dudes, but of course, they just had to break records while playing against the Niners.

The definition of adding salt to a wound.

For San Francisco, the defense clamped down on Metcalf by holding him to three receptions for 21 yards and zero touchdowns. Saleh looked proud of his boys, regardless of the final score of 26-23 in favour of Seattle.

If our iconic DC leaves the team to be a head coach for a new organization, he’ll leave a legend. And our injury-prone QB1 may leave with a huge chip on his shoulder from the 49ers Faithful turning their backs on him—a man who nearly won them a shiny Lombardi trophy not even one year ago.

Jimmy brushed it off, though. And you know what? I think I will, too.

People bark at me for being an embarrassment to SI and sports journalism. At the end of the day, it’s just a platform. But that platform is allowing my voice to be heard more than ever before.

Obviously the trolls don’t like it one bit; however, that’s not really what it’s all about. It’s about the online community who holds each other up when they need a lil extra TLC.

It’s about the Faithful, like Candace from Canada, who reenacted the photo I described above and made me feel like I belong in this world surrounded by beautiful souls who choose love and unity daily. Surely, I must be doing something right if I can inspire an impromptu photo shoot, right?

The 49ers may have had the worst season I can remember (in terms of injuries and being shipped to a foreign home), but we all came together as a fan base in a unique way. Candace’s photo is living proof. This is why I put up with the trolls and the Jimmy G haters.

This is what it’s all about: the fans who share so many similarities and values. Sure, we disagree almost every five minutes. Even through some intense Twitter rants, the real ones are always there.

Isn’t that what being a faithful is truly all about?

The last decade has been a rollercoaster of love/hate. We’ve felt the lowest of lows. and this year gave us an onslaught of adversity to try our hardest to somehow overcome. Let me just talk about the injuries:

43 players on the IR. 

52 different starters. 

80 total players on the roster throughout the season. It doesn’t take an actual GM to figure out that was the main issue for the team this year.

To top it off, with the holidays right around the corner—stockings to be hung by the chimney with care, Hanukkah candles to be lit—the 49ers were given the boot by the Santa Clara County and had to find solace in Arizona. I’m sure the weather was nice, but to play a home game at a division rival’s stadium is like wearing your little cousin’s shoes. It just doesn’t feel right.

And frankly, it’s not fair. Here’s the thing, the team was dealt a rough hand this year. Thankfully, life goes on.

So, if we’re hanging up the cleats on Jimmy Garoppolo, I guess I’d like to thank him for giving me a season of personal growth. Watching that man endure everything from “Nick Mullens' interceptions being his fault for being injured” to “Trade him for Matthew Stafford!” I’m proud of the guy for sticking by a team and organization who hasn’t always stuck by him.

That’s tough to do in this life, especially when it feels like it’s you vs. your family. Trust me, I know all about that.

But if I can give you any advice, Jimmy—and really anyone out there with a plethora of real-life and online trolls—it’s to hold on to those who see your worth, because I promise you’re worth more than a click bait headline or a mean tweet.

We're both living proof.

A huge thank you to Candace and the entire 49ers Faithful fan base for believing in me this season. You’re all the real MVP of my life.