Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold passes during the first half of a game against UCLA, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Sam Darnold is boring.
We might as well get that out of the way.
He’s boring. Dull. Sorta lame.
His mother and father (who, interestingly, are anything butboring) refer to their boy as “Flatline,” and while this isn’t meant as an insult, it’s not exactly a compliment. Southern Cal’s redshirt sophomore quarterback doesn’t tweet. He doesn’t talk shit. He won’t bash UCLA’s Josh Rosen or promise a national championship. There are zero traces of tattoos or piercings or shirtless arm-crossed tough guy poses.
When Sam recently met with a B/R Mag writer on the USC campus, he sported gray shorts, worn sneakers and a wrinkled white T-shirt with yellow sweat stains beneath the armpits. It is within the realm of possibilities he combed his hair beforehand. Maybe.
Whether discussing last season’s thrilling Rose Bowl win over Penn State or if he’ll declare for the 2018 NFL draft (he’s noncommittal), his vocal tone remained at the same level. Sorta…like…this. “That’s Sam,” says Chris Darnold, his mother. “He’s a wonderful boy. But his goal isn’t to thrill you.”
In the modern world of Sports Mythology: 101, Sam Darnolds are increasingly rare specimens. There’s a playbook, written long ago and perfected lately by LaVar Ball, that demands our offspring live and die with a gilded mojo and chosen sport. That they become one with a chosen sport.
It is the way. It is the future. It is inevitable.
“I hate it,” says the quarterback’s father. “I really hate it.”
His name is Mike Darnold. He is a stocky 53-year-old medical gas plumber with short hair and a soft-spoken manner. As he opines from a chair inside the living room of his Capistrano Beach, California, home, he dips one corn chip after another into a small bowl of green guacamole, taking meticulous nibbles off the corners. Chris, a middle school physical education teacher and his wife of 23 years, is across the way on a blue couch, nodding.
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