FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t started a regular season game yet, but all of New England already knows his favorite ice cream flavor: cookies and cream. Preferably on a cone.
He revealed as much in a local sports radio interview Monday morning — a Boston celebrity rite of passage — when asked whether he’d taken to health nut Tom Brady’s favorite flavor, avocado.
Later, after Monday’s joint practice with the Bears, the Patriots quarterback reflected on the gravity of his circumstance: Just two years after leaving Eastern Illinois, the Rolling Meadows High School alum will be tasked with replacing Brady for the first four games of the season while he serves his “Deflategate” suspension.
“I don’t know if anyone has been in that situation, but you know, you can always find guys to lean on,” he said. “I mean, whoever it may be, veterans in the locker room, family members, friends, whatever it may be, you just have to have a good support system.”
He has a believer in Brady, who praised his work ethic Sunday. It was the surest sign yet that the third-year player has gained hard-earned respect in a locker room filled with veterans.
“Tommy is a guy that I look up to, and I’ve learned a lot from him,” said the 24-year-old, who completed one pass on four attempts last season. “And, you know, it’s always a privilege to hear something like that from a guy that you respect like that.”
He grew up watching Brady, who is 15 years his senior, and another star who was more reviled in Arlington Heights.
“Even though I’m from Chicago I always liked Brett Favre growing up,” he said.
Asked if that was because the Bears didn’t have any great quarterbacks, Garoppolo grew a bit defensive of his hometown team.
‘Oh man, come on,” he said. “Yeah they went through a little bit of a dry spell there, but no, I just always liked Favre, his toughness and everything.”
Jay Cutler, who was traded to the Bears when Garoppolo was a high school junior, listed the benefits of being able to apprentice under Brady. Garoppolo went 11-for-18 for 168 yards in the Patriots’ first preseason game, a 34-22 win against the Saints, but has watched Brady get his preseason work in during practices.
“You can’t put a price on it,” Cutler said. “He’s in a situation where he gets to learn from one of the best to do it, one of the best in the game. I am sure Tom is doing everything he can to help him and gives him some tips of the trade.”
That includes learning how to handle sudden celebrity.
“I think Jimmy has got good presence for the position,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked about the growing spotlight. “I think he always has …
“Every player develops throughout the course of their career as they gain experience. That’s no different than him or anybody else, but I think his demeanor is good.”
The four-week tryout is about four weeks away.
“It’s a privilege to be in the situation I’m in,” Garoppolo said. “And you just got to go take advantage of it.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley