This article may inevitably be about Jared Goff but this is Joan Ives. If you’re from Mansfield, Massachusetts, you might know her as Joan Cooper – a local high school sports legend. Even before Title IX made sports widely accessible to girls in 1972, she was playing varsity in three different sports in the seventh grade. She was inducted into the Mansfield High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 for field hockey but she also dominated on the basketball court and softball field. According to her father, the Mansfield Athletic director came to him at her senior banquet and said “Hey Leo, you owe me 36 bucks”. As $36 was no small sum back then, her father inquired as to why to which Coach Parsons responded, “I estimate that Coop knocked about 18 of the middle school windows out hitting homeruns and those run $2 a pop”.

However, if you were a friend of my family or I, you might know her by a different name altogether: Auntie Coopie. All throughout our childhood Auntie Coop was there to spoil my sister and I. Every sporting event we had, she was there. She was there in the pool for us kids to beat up on and she was there when my mom was being treated for cancer. She wasn’t just our “cool aunt” – she was everyone’s. And if you ever meet Auntie Coopie you learn two things pretty quickly: She loves everyone right back. And she loves the Los Angeles Rams.

(Original Gangster)

She’s no fair-weather fan either. She may have started out as one, originally liking the Rams for their flashy colors and their handsome young quarterback, Roman Gabriel, but she has been a faithful fan for over half a century. The LA Rams gear she rocks isn’t from the recent move back to LA or some “throwback” – they are the real deal from when Jack Youngblood and Eric Dickerson dominated the gridiron. She’s a true diehard and she even unsuccessfully tried to convert us kids into Rams fans (though my father was able to at least steer me towards the Patriots, thank goodness).

(This traumatic experience may have somehow contributed to my sister being a Dolphins fan)

Living in New England for the vast majority of her life has not stopped Auntie Coop from repping HER Rams one bit. And, as she’s not a “local” fan, the moves to and from St. Louis certainly didn’t detract her. Not even the recent Coronavirus pandemic could stop her from supporting the boys in blue and gold. Here she is going out to get her essentials on the rare occasion she does get out during the lockdown.

With such a social and lovable person, it was heartbreaking to us that her birthday in early May fell right in the heart of the quarantine. Given that medical history classifies her as high risk for COVID-19, there was no way to get everyone together to celebrate. Her husband, a proud military man, had passed years ago and the idea that she would be alone for her birthday absolutely crushed us. So my sister and I developed a plan. We couldn’t have a real party but we could use technology to create a digital party by getting friends and family to send us quick videos saying happy birthday. And as it proved, with someone as popular as her, it’s incredibly easy to get people to send over their well wishes. However, for her we wanted to see if we could make it a little extra special so we found a way to reach out through some friends of friends which resulted in the video below being added to the montage. Needless to say, she was beyond thrilled.

Jared didn’t need to do that. There was nothing for him to gain. It wasn’t some charity event to attach his name to or paid partnership to profit from. I didn’t even use Fantasy Alarm resources to reach out – it was honestly with a lot of luck and a lot of thanks to a particular DJ in LA that we got a hold of him (shout-out to Lost Kings). Jared did it simply because it was something nice to do. He’s a busy guy but taking the time to make that video brought a lifelong fan of his organization to tears. We were so thankful that we reached back out let him know just how happy it made her. It was only in the thank you that we told Goff how big of a fan she truly was and we sent some of the pictures that we just shared with you to prove it. His response? 

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world today. And obviously the news stories that come with that are all doom and gloom. Typically, we’d at least have sports to distract us but we don’t even have that right now. So we figured that, at a time when some NFL players are allegedly robbing a party at gunpoint, we’d share with you a story of at least one athlete who chose to go out of his way simply to do something nice. Here’s a guy who was given a small opportunity to make a little ole lady’s day and instead turned around and made her whole year. The quick video was more than enough but he decided to go the extra mile to reward a true fan for a lifetime of support.

I’ve been guilty myself of bashing players on Twitter or Reddit or wherever.  With fantasy football it comes with the territory.  But next time you go to put a guy on blast for something he did on the field or his 40 time or his hand size, just remember that these guys are real people and some of them are great people - regardless of what they do at work.  If you are a stat-head like me, obsessed with numbers and rings, your first instinct if someone were to say that “Jared Goff is a superstar” might be to start bringing up the rankings or the success of other quarterbacks or the super bowl loss.  Before this I might have even done the same thing.  But based on what I now know, I can assure you – Jared Goff is a superstar. 

I mean, I’m still going to root for the Pats.  But, Goff, you’re a real one.