I saw the Niners at school in July and still have not recovered

October 8, 2020 — by Neeti Badve

For several days in the summer I had seen my classmates make social media posts showing photos with all-world tight end George Kittle and star QB Jimmy Garoppolo under the Home of the Falcons sign in the school’s parking lot.  With each post, I became more frustrated after realizing I had missed another opportunity to see these iconic NFL stars. 

So when my friend called me one Sunday in late July and said that 10 or so 49ers offensive players were again practicing on our very own Benny Pierce field, I got in my car and went right away. 

There weren’t as many onlookers as I expected: maybe only 20 or so all interspersed at various locations around the track. Everyone was surprisingly silent, all in awe that they were getting this opportunity to see players they adored this close-up for free. Everyone was respectful of their practice, with no one distracting the players or interfering in any way. 

There was nothing really special about the practice itself. The players spent more time talking in their huddle and goofing around rather than actually playing, but whenever a ball was thrown, I could see the smiles on all the onlookers’ faces as they realized how lucky they were to be just yards away from these stars. 

I stood at the part of the track closest to the entrance because they were playing on that side of the field and tried my hardest to identify the players on the field, which was significantly harder when they weren’t in football attire and didn’t have jerseys. Suddenly, I started to internally freak out as I saw the very reason I came to the field in the first place: Jimmy G. 

I remember whispering “Oh my god. It’s Jimmy” about 50 times upon this realization since my mind was unable to process the situation I was currently in. Now, let me just say that the TV definitely does not do him justice; to my shock, he is actually more handsome in real life. 

He walked with this swagger that screamed “cool but not arrogant.” After practice was over, he stayed behind and picked up all the cones and equipment like any respectable team captain would. He apologized for not being able to take photos that day and not being able to sign autographs due to social distancing norms and thanked everyone for coming as he walked by. 

As he passed near the fence I was standing by, I waved and said: “Good luck this season!” To my shock and utter joy he responded, “Thanks for the support! We really appreciate it.”

I melted on the spot, but I gathered enough of my senses just enough to realize that I was now literally 10 feet away from wide receiver Deebo Samuel. The guy radiates coolness and confidence, and you can tell he really loves what he’s doing. He smiled the whole time he was walking by, letting us know that he cared about his fans. 

When the “show” was over, spectators went out the gates and watched as players drove out of the parking lot in their custom BMWs and Mercedes-Benz. 

I still have this next moment ingrained in my memory: Jimmy G sat with one hand on the steering wheel, and while he puts on his sunglasses, he smiles at me and throws up a peace sign while I wave goodbye. 

If he had stayed for five seconds after that, he would’ve seen me jumping up and down in disbelief. Thankfully, as if this day wasn’t lucky enough already, I didn’t embarrass myself in front of him like that. 


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