Jim O'Donnell: Garoppolo targeted for bittersweet curtain call at Soldier Field

  • Rolling Meadows quarterback Jim Garoppolo throws a pass against Prospect. Garoppolo returns home Sunday as the starting QB for the 49ers.

      Rolling Meadows quarterback Jim Garoppolo throws a pass against Prospect. Garoppolo returns home Sunday as the starting QB for the 49ers. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer/2008

Updated 10/30/2021 6:06 PM

THERE IS A QUIET CUL-DE-SAC not terribly far from downtown Arlington Heights.

It's hardly secluded.


In front of one of the houses, a modest, square San Francisco 49ers flag blows in the wind.

It's the house where Jimmy Garoppolo grew up.

Garoppolo will make what will be a rare and probably final appearance at Soldier Field as starting QB for the Niners vs. the Bears Sunday (Fox, noon).

He hasn't played in Chicago since December 2017. That day, in his first start for San Francisco, a last-second field goal by Robbie Gould beat the Bears, 15-14.

Five weeks prior, on Halloween, Garoppolo had been traded to the Bay by Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

The game Sunday is so fair between two teams spun down by the moon tides of October that it says here the Bears -- the Bears! -- should win.

(To some, that's like predicting that Steve Bannon will deliver the keynote address at the 2024 Republican National Convention.)

Vegas says otherwise. SF opened as 3-point favorite and the line has been trending toward minus-5.

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It's the NFL. So who knows?

WHAT IS KNOWN IS that 21 months ago, Garoppolo was one of the toasts of the league.

Young, wealthy, good looking, of impeccable manners and headed for Super Bowl 54 against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jimmy G and SF led 20-10 entering the fourth quarter. But it wasn't to be.

Nor was his future as an NFL megastar, as seemed so likely that day.

Injuries have left him week-to-week, snap-to-snap. HC Kyle Shanahan has rookie QB Trey Lance owning the wings like a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee.

WHATEVER HIS FUTURE, Garoppolo has been the source of enormous pride for his parents Tony and Denise, brothers Tony Jr., Mike and Billy and all who have helped enable him scale pro football's loftiest vistas.

Now, it will remain impossible for some burnt-orange locals not to root for him this weekend.

"G" has simply brought too much dignity and grace to all communities that he has touched.


From that cul-de-sac in Arlington Heights to Sunday's threshold of forever.

SOME RESIDUALS AND QUESTIONS still in play as the sordid Blackhawks scandal plays out:

--- How would foggy Bill Wirtz have handled the dismaying mess?

--- Does Joel Quenneville alone fall into a more misdemeanant category among the seven in attendance at the now infamous meeting of May 21, 2010, at which the allegations of abuse from Kyle Beach were discussed?

Quenneville was in charge of coaching a team to six more victories and a Stanley Cup. That was his contractual channel of accountability.

A strong-willed supervisor -- that being team president John McDonough -- reportedly asserted that the allegations would be properly handled.

Quenneville had no standing to overrule McDonough. He could have gone rogue to the organization's HR department but any operative there could only effectively have proceeded with the concurrence of McDonough.

--- Will the backlash from the scandal bring about renewed calls for the team to dump its trademark Indigenous American branding?

-- Curious minds were piqued as soon as Jenner & Block was retained by the Wirtz family to manage the "independent investigation."

The late Albert Jenner -- a title partner of the firm -- was once senior counsel to the Warren Commission.

That was the craftworked presidential panel stitched together to "investigate" the game-changing assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Have the current J&B partners fallen that far from the fee?


Mainstream America is finding the Astros-Braves World Series about as exciting as the Facebook corporate name change. It is one of the lowest-rated in history. Still, Fox claims "The Dusty Baker Salvation Show" is averaging close to 10M viewers. ...

Speaking of tedious, Thursday night's Packers-Cardinals game might have been a good spot for Joe Buck to take a day off. Sure he's also calling the WS for Fox but with bright young talents like Adam Amin awaiting their close-ups, Buck's "hero mic" schtick is so 1995. ...

The departure of Siafa Lewis as lead sports anchor at WMAQ-Channel 5 once again underscores how irrelevant nightly TV newscasts in Chicago have become. Comparatively few know the man exists. (Exhibit "Doe?" remains Lou Canellis.) ...

The Bulls recent alumni reunion was held well out of public view at a tony restaurant about seven blocks from the United Center. Tribal elders such as Artis Gilmore, Mickey Johnson and Bob Love posted up with more recent grads including Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich. (NBA memories were said to be trumped by talk of aches and cardiac ablations.) ...

Despite "selling out" its 2021 induction dinner, the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame continues to drift in a clubby netherland. (The Hall hasn't been the same since the 2016 passing of fabled energizer Howie Fagan; Still, it's expected to last until everyone who played in the Chicago Catholic League from 1924-2001 is honored.) ...

And Central Park sports barb Phil Mushnick, wondering if the IRS is as "woke" as other government agencies: "I now 'identify' as a 16-year-old, so I don't have to pay taxes, right?"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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