It’s so ironic, and also … let me find just the right word … so darn gratifying.
A man who spent the whole week demeaning a woman, going on any platform that would have him to criticize her, turning tail and hiding when he got pushback for being sexist and loud and wrong.
It served absolutely no purpose last week to highlight the outdated-yet-still-breathing brand of misogyny employed by Jeff Garcia, because it wasn’t new. Garcia wasn’t the first man to cry that a woman who never played football shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on football, and he won’t be the last.
But Garcia’s reaction? Oh yeah, we’re going to highlight this.
Because, to borrow from the phrasing common to the neanderthals who still whine about women in sports media: When things got hot, Garcia went running from the kitchen.
As of midday Monday, Garcia has turned his Instagram account to private and deleted his Twitter account.
It is a weak, childish reaction from someone who made weak, childish arguments.
Last week, Garcia, who spent almost half his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, took to Instagram to target ESPN’s Mina Kimes for her crime of telling the truth: that the 49ers had won their first two playoff games with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but not because of him.
It was pretty tepid as criticism goes, and anyone who watched those first two games would agree.
As would anyone who watched Sunday’s NFC championship game, which ended when a scrambling Garoppolo, in the grasp of the Los Angeles Rams‘ otherworldly defensive tackle Aaron Donald, just flung the ball, underhanded, in the direction of a teammate and was promptly picked off.
Well, anyone who watched except Garcia, who no one had really thought about since the last time he spouted off some untethered rant, which was in October 2020 when he said Cam Newton would be a better quarterback if he *checks notes* didn’t care about fashion.
And there Garcia was again last week, this time going after Kimes because she didn’t play football and therefore in Garcia’s small mind can’t possibly understand the game. There are many, many men who write about and talk about the NFL who never played above their high school’s junior varsity team (if that), and men who have coached in the league who don’t have much more experience than that as a player.
Garcia defended his ridiculous take, until he didn’t.
On a sports radio show on Friday, questioned about his sexism and misogyny, Garcia refused to apologize and had a full-on meltdown before hanging up on the hosts.
And then on Sunday night, after Garoppolo barely completed 50% of his passes, registered an 87.1 passer rating and threw that game-ending INT, Garcia immediately turned his Instagram account to private.
On Monday he deleted his Twitter account.
And I am cackling.
Any woman in sports media — since the first day one wrote about sports decades ago, but especially in this era of social media where any joker with a keyboard can make up a profile and bombard you with anonymous misogyny and violence — has dealt with death threats, pointed insults and a general disdain for us for daring to enjoy sports, understand them, and have an ability and platform to share game stories and feature stories with the masses.
Just last week, USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour shared an email she’d received from a man telling her she, like all women, “belongs in the damn kitchen.” About 15 years ago, I got an email from a reader telling me I was better suited for Ladies Home Journal magazine than the Providence Journal, the newspaper I was writing for at the time as its New England Patriots beat writer.
Ignorance like that, ignorance like Garcia’s, spans years but it doesn’t change much.
And those are tame comments.
When we get the truly horrible ones, we’re told to get thicker skin. To find a way to deal with it because “that’s just the way it is,” as if we couldn’t just do our jobs without having to absorb gendered bigotry. As a Black woman in this space, I’ve dealt with the sexism and also racism, from those who have dismissed me as a quota hire, incapable of believing I’m just good at my job.
There are women who have decided they didn’t want to deal with it all and changed career paths, and that’s a shame but understandable. For those of us who endure, we deal with jerks like Garcia on a weekly basis, if not more often.
And still we tweet.
And still we write, for local papers and huge websites.
And still we sit at a desk on the biggest sports network in the world and confidently share our opinions, developed from years of watching and studying and asking questions, just like our male counterparts do.
We don’t hide.
Unlike Jeff Garcia.