That was the mocking moniker used by FS1’s Jason Whitlock about Jimmy Garoppolo this week after the 49ers quarterback’s date with adult-film star Kiara Mia. As Whitlock’s on-air colleagues chortled, the co-host of “Speak for Yourself” warned Garoppolo, 26, made a mistake in stepping out with the 41-year-old star of the Kim Kardashian porn parody, “Keeping up with Kiara Mia.”
The former New England backup QB nicknamed “Jimmy G” better win in San Francisco this season, warned Whitlock, or else he has “exposed” something about his personality that will be used against him.
“He’s got a freaky side. A real freaky side,” Whitlock said. “It’s going to be like: Is he distracted? Does he have some kind of addiction issue? Is he Tiger Woods? If he doesn’t play well, all these questions are going to be asked.”It’s easy to dismiss coverage of the dinner date. This will probably blow over once the games start. No big deal, right?
Yes, the adult film industry has gone mainstream. Yes, many professional (and some college athletes) canoodle with adult-film stars. Yes, it’s a free country, and a young, handsome, single athlete like Garoppolo should be free to date whoever he wants. ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley (Whitlock’s future co-host on “SFY”) told TMZ we should not judge Garoppolo for being honest. Many consumers watch X-rated videos, he noted. Why not admit it?
Said Wiley: “He’s made enough money. He doesn’t need every damn endorsement. He made $137 million off seven games. Do you need Pepsi, too?”
But one sports marketing expert thinks Garoppolo, the NFL’s new golden boy, has put his own brand at risk, not to mention the brands of the 49ers and the league. Sports is still big business, with a B as in billions, warns Mike “The Reputation Doctor” Paul.
Garoppolo is the new leader of one of the NFL’s most iconic franchises. With Peyton Manning retired and Tom Brady on his last legs, the NFL views Garoppolo as the next potential face of the league. If Garoppolo wants to follow in the multi-million-dollar footsteps of Madison Avenue endorsers like Manning, Brady and Cam Newton, then the more “family-friendly” his image, the better, according to the president of Reputation Doctor LLC. The same goes for the images of the team and the league.
“There’s benefits to being family-friendly. The more family-friendly you are, the more opportunity you have to have sponsors,” said Paul, who’s worked with many pro athletes. “If you’re blocking sponsors because you’re dating a porn star, that’s not good for you. Or the team. Or the league.”
Given the two-year controversy over NFL players kneeling in protest of social justice during the national anthem, Paul doubts the league also wants to rub Garoppolo’s adult-film star girlfriend in the faces of family values-oriented fans who view pornography as “unsavory at best and illegal at worst.”
A chastened Garoppolo admitted this week he learned a lesson.
“My life is looked at differently,” he said. “I’m under a microscope. Like (49ers coach) Kyle (Shanahan) said, it is a good learning experience.”
But even if Garoppolo wants to forget it and move on, the struggling adult-film business might not forget him so easily.
Asks Paul: What’s to stop an opportunistic producer from rushing out a parody video of the quarterback and the porn star, a la “Breast Side Story” (starring President Donald Trump’s alleged paramour Stormy Daniels) or “The Sopornos?” Or a condom marketer running an ad campaign bragging its products will help men score a “touchdown?”
There are plenty of ways the X-rated industry can mock, satirize and capitalize on Garoppolo and the NFL brand without crossing the line into trademark infringement.
“Garoppolo wanted to be different from Brady? Well, mission accomplished. You’re ‘Porn Boy’ now,” Paul said. “Even if he says the (Mia) relationship is over, you can’t shed that label just because you want to. The porn industry won’t forget.
“You’ve already put your reputation, your team’s reputation and the league’s reputation at risk.”