Tom Brady's prolonged excellence might not have been the only thing that stunted Jimmy Garoppolo's ascent to becoming the future in Foxborough.
Former Patriots great Julian Edelman has now joined Martellus Bennett in criticizing Garoppolo for refusing to play through injury in 2016 with Tom Brady out of the lineup, acknowledging on the "I AM ATHLETE" podcast that even more players than Bennett were upset with the now-San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
Bennett originally called Garoppolo out last October on Devin and Jason McCourty's Double Coverage podcast for missing the last two games of Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension with an AC joint sprain in his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
"Jimmy Garoppolo was being a [expletive]," the former Patriots tight end said.
"He decided not to play right before the game. Jacoby (Brissett) came out and played with a [expletive]-up thumb and played his heart out, but Jimmy was just being a [expletive] about it all.
"That's why he ... you can't win with a [expletive] for a quarterback, first of all. That was the whole thing with him: He didn't want to come out and do anything because his agent was trying to protect his body or some s--- like that. Which, I can't fault him for that. But like, you should have made that decision on Thursday.
"Now it's Sunday…so now Jacoby straps up and we lost to the Buffalo Bills. We shouldn't have lost. It was just last-minute, trying to make adjustments for what Jacoby could do."
Edelman said Brissett "played with no ligaments in this [right] thumb" in Week 4, injuring his hand while leading the Patriots to a 27-0 win against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 the previous Thursday night. The then-rookie Brissett's resolve to play while heavily limited juxtaposed against Garoppolo's 11th-hour withdrawal irked teammates, including Edelman himself.
"A lot of guys got mad about it. I'm not gonna lie, I got mad about it," he said. "I sacrifice my body all day long. I was taking shots for this, numbing up that. Broken ribs. Shoulders. Grade 3 [sprains] hanging on by limbs just to play. I can understand why Marty thinks like that."
Garoppolo, of course, was traded to the San Francisco 49ers during the 2017 season after Brady led the Patriots to the Super Bowl comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons.
After missing the 2018 season with a torn ACL and drawing scorn for potentially costing the 49ers a Super Bowl after returning the next year, Garoppolo showed grit last season, battling through throwing shoulder injuries during San Francisco's playoff run last year. He is now rehabbing the injury and expects to be traded once he's healthy.
But the veteran quarterback's handling of this injury situation looks like a subject his ex-teammates and perhaps even the franchise more broadly haven't forgotten.
Edelman, meanwhile, also addressed the prospect of his own return to football after a year away from the game.
The three-time champion retired last off-season but recently left the door open to playing again, whether with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay or even with the Patriots.
But though he didn't exactly pull a 180 on the podcast, his outlook on a possible NFL comeback feels more sobering than his comments two weeks ago.
"The amount of work I have to put into my body to train, to make me confident, that's so much for the output that I get now out of my body because of the injuries, my knees, this, that. I'm not getting the same output," he explained.
"Now that I've taken a year off and I'm not loading my body, compounding loads every day, my body feels pretty straight. And I've gone and dabbled out and run routes. But then, you see, when you run routes, the next day, like, 'Alright, I'm not too bad.' But I'm already 10,000 reps behind in my mind."