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updated: 5/12/2014 7:29 PM

Imrem has hometown pride in Jimmy Garoppolo

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  • Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, on the sideline during an Eastern Illinois game last season, was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round.

      Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, on the sideline during an Eastern Illinois game last season, was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round.
    Associated Press

 
 

I live in Arlington Heights, which also happens to be the hometown of Jimmy Garoppolo.

This is cool.

Soccer great Brian McBride lives in my neighborhood, albeit in a house that makes ours look like a pantry.

This also is cool.

Then there is Arlington Park, which is like living in Wrigleyville without as many drunks.

That's super cool.

Of all these sports reasons to brag about the village's sports presence, right now Jimmy Garoppolo is the most exciting because his news is the most current.

All sports essentially being local just might be why the NFL draft attracted 45.7 million TV viewers during its three-day run.

Spanning seven rounds, 256 players were drafted, and each has at least one hometown in which he grew up and one university at which he presumably went to class.

Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney and Michael Sam -- draft headliners -- all had neighbors and classmates who tuned in to see where these guys would begin their pro football careers.

The locals can claim that they knew little Jadeveon when he was taking plays off in youth ball or Sam before homosexuality made him famous nationwide or Johnny Football before he tasted alcohol.

These folks might never have been in the company of any of these athletes, but they'd like other folks to believe they had been.

I still boast -- truthfully -- that I attended games that Dick Butkus played in the pros with the Bears, college at Illinois and high school at CVS. But the prep game was in Chicago, a city with a population in the millions. This is Arlington Heights, a village with a population in the thousands.

Jimmy Garoppolo is the kid next door even if he lived on the other side of town.

OK, full disclosure: I never met Garoppolo, saw him play or even recall hearing about him when he was at Rolling Meadows. But I'm not above lying to people by saying, "Oh, sure, I followed Jimmy G's career since he was in grade school ... nice young man."

Garoppolo's stature kept growing from here through Eastern Illinois University to the point the New England Patriots drafted him in the second round.

Seriously, this is really cool stuff even for a sports writer who has been in the company of most of the great athletes of our time.

But there's one regret: Oh, if only the Bears, instead of collecting defensive tackles, would have drafted Garoppolo in the second round before the Pats got to him.

I know, I know, Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback and in theory the Bears didn't need to use a high draft pick on a backup.

But the Patriots did? Don't they have some guy named Tom Brady? Don't they need 250 defensive tackles like the Bears apparently do?

Smart organizations like New England and Green Bay can't get enough quality quarterbacks. No wonder the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers as Brett Favre's heir apparent a couple of years before it was necessary.

The Bears did select a quarterback in the later rounds to groom as an eventual backup instead of one in the earlier rounds to groom as Cutler's successor.

The difference is that Brady and Favre were in their late 30s and Cutler is in his early 30s with more years left.

None of this would matter to me if Jimmy Garoppolo weren't from Arlington Heights and didn't attend nearby Rolling Meadows High.

Of course, Jimmy Garoppolo is better off with a perennial power like New England than with a Bears team that would like to grow up to be the Patriots.

Regardless, it really is cool to see a young kid go from Arlington Heights to being a young man reaching football heights.

All around the country, civic pride is bursting over their guys.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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