ATLANTA — They came from the suburbs of the Bay Area, growing up 50 miles and almost a generation apart, the new kid on the block and the onetime kid who has knocked off everyone’s block, Jared Goff and Tom Brady.
When Brady’s New England Patriots and Goff’s Los Angeles Rams play Sunday in Super Bowl LIII, it will only be the second time (after the Pittsburgh region’s Joe Montana of the 49ers and Dan Marino of the Dolphins faced off in Super Bowl XIX) that both opposing QBs are from the same place, in this instance Northern California.
Brady, from San Mateo, grew up a 49ers fan, idolizing Joe Montana. When he was 4½, Brady was watching Montana throw to Dwight Clark for “The Catch.” Goff, from Novato, also grew up a 49ers fan, and was upset when the Niners illogically failed to draft Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft.
That was when Rodgers was at Cal, where Goff would eventually enroll — and where Tom Brady’s dad, Tom Sr., had hoped Tom similarly would, so he and the family could drive to home games in Berkeley.
But Tom went to Michigan. And according to a story by Nicole Yang in the Boston Herald, Tom, the dad, needed eight weeks of psychological counseling to deal with the separation from a son with whom he played golf on Sunday mornings.
Goff played baseball with his dad, Jerry, who was with the Montreal Expos, before they became the Washington Nationals, according to a story by the sharp Janie McCauley of the Associated Press.
Goff, in his first Super Bowl, at age 24, paid deference to Brady, who at 41 is in his ninth. “It’s a guy that you’ve looked up to for so long,’’ Goff said, “and now I get a chance to play in one with him.’’
Or, more accurately, against him.
Goff, for what it’s worth, is the fifth man from Cal to play quarterback in a Super Bowl, perhaps ironic for a school known more for its academics than its athletics, joining Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, Vince Ferragamo and Rodgers.
The mayors of the QBs' home towns have one of those traditional bets on the game. You’d think that Brady, with five Super Bowl victories going against a Super Bowl rookie, will get the win for San Mateo.
However, the Rams said that Goff, finishing his third season, showed great poise in the playoffs, especially the overtime win against New Orleans in the NFC title game — OK, the officiating helped, but Goff was on target and in control.
“When you look at Jared and his career trajectory, even high school, college and pro, this is a guy that’s been able to be unfazed by some of the adversities that he’s faced in a game or over the course of a season,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I don’t feel like any job is too big for this guy.”
For certain, no job is too big for Brady. In the AFC Championship game against Kansas City, as soon as the Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, you knew who the winner would be. Zip, zip. Brady picked apart the Chiefs.
There will be plenty of other battles, the Rams’ improving defensive line against the Pats, New England’s linebacking against Los Angeles, the kickers, the special teams. Still, it so often comes down to quarterbacks.
But never until now, opposing quarterbacks from the same area.
Brady is gunning for his unprecedented sixth ring.
Boomer Esiason, an NFL studio analyst for CBS, relates to Goff, with whom he sat for an interview that will air Sunday before the game.
“Thirty years ago, I was the other quarterback,’’ Esiason told Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, referring to the one Super Bowl in which he played — in 1989, against the 49ers and Montana.
“I said to him (Goff), ‘Welcome to that chair. That’s the other quarterback chair.’
“Then I asked him, ‘So, you wear No. 16 for Joe Montana. Who were the quarterbacks that his teams beat in the Super Bowl?’ He said, ‘Were you one of them?’ Yeah, I was. He laughed. I told him it was John Elway, me, Dan Marino and Kenny Anderson. He said, ‘Oh, that’s a pretty good list.’ I said, ‘Yeah, the wrong side of the list.’’’
Whatever side he or Brady end up on this time, they’ll have something in common: Northern California roots.