Like Jared Goff, I grew up in California. I know all too well that it’s not typical football country. I’ve never worn a scarf unless I was traveling, I melt when it’s humid, and I really like avocados.
Goff shrugs and acknowledges he's never been through any chilling hardships off the field. All four of his grandparents and both parents are still alive, he notes, as are his closest friends.
He was Cal's first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener. He was drafted first overall into the NFL.
He doesn't have a blemish on his face, and his hairline isn't merely intact—his full, golden locks flow in the wind. And sure, Goff listens to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. What of it?
He's not like Dak Prescott, whose mom died. He's not like Derek Carr, whose infant son nearly died.
Nor is he a 199th overall pick like Tom Brady. Nor was he embarrassed nationally in a green room like Aaron Rodgers.
Goff entered the NFL unscathed, it seemed, but he was then bruised and bloodied and winless through seven starts. Now, the future of pro football in the country's second-most populated city rests on his shoulders.
All good points. I mean, I want my QB to be listening to some late 70’s era AC/DC as he’s walking from the bus to the locker room, not some song about a failed relationship with John Mayer.
This 22-year-old can be the King of Los Angeles, the reason for people to care about the NFL in the land of Magic and Kobe and Kershaw and LaVar and Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. And geez, if only people would stop confusing him with Ryan Gosling. Dozens ask if he's him. He says he's not. They move on, disappointed.
I will say that Ryan Gosling has and will have way more pull in LA than most athletes. People love Gosling because he’s earned it. It’s just the way the city works.
There’s a small amount of LA athletes that move the needle because so much is going on here. I’d ague that Los Angeles Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw doesn’t get as recognized as much as he would if he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The first hit that comes to mind? Goff pretends to punch himself across the face: "I don't even remember who it was." Down 42-7 against Atlanta on Dec. 11, he ran for the end zone and was helicoptered at the goal line: "If I give everything I got and I get hurt, so be it." Against Seattle four days later, he never even saw Richard Sherman in his peripheral: "I'm trying to score. I was never thinking, 'OK, I'm going to get hit.'"
He was sacked 26 times in those seven losses. A human pinata. And he knows what you're thinking: that he's too soft, too overwhelmed, a kid too blinded by those L.A. lights.
So he's blunt.
Right here, the essence of Goff crystallizes. One thought, above all else, drives him play in and play out.
"I'm more afraid that people will be like, 'He's a little bitch,' than I am of truly getting hit," Goff says. "So that's what drives me to be like, 'I'm fine.' That mentality is what keeps me in the game.
Even though he doesn’t look it, it seems like Goff is actually tough. That’s what Rams fans will have to keep saying to themselves when he trots onto the field, skinny as a rail, trying to survive a brutal sack from the likes of J.J. Watt — this guy can handle it.
So check out Dunn’s piece. It’s a great read. If the question is whether Jared Goff is tough enough, you’ll likely come away believing he is:
For a moment, the crown appears too heavy for Goff. He's still the youngest starting quarterback in the NFL, after all.
But he knows a turning point is coming. Maybe it'll be another eyesore of a bruise. A comeback. A stern scolding of a teammate for pounding beers after a loss. Or maybe it'll be a clutch throw right at a Richard Sherman, a Patrick Peterson. At some point in 2017, Goff must assert himself when all eyes are on him.
As he walks to his car, Goff speaks as if he already knows the outcome. There's not a blip of hesitancy, let alone doubt, in his voice.
"I'm someone who's going to fight until I can't fight anymore," he says. "I'm not going to quit until they take me off the field. You have to drag me off. I only know one way. I've done it in the past. I've done it my whole life. I plan to do it with the Rams. I plan on turning things around soon—sooner than later.
Goff may be a poor man’s Gosling, but he’s our poor man’s Gosling and a tough one at that. Hopefully, that’s enough for the Rams to begin turning this franchise around.