It may be unseemly to pick on a guy on his 70th birthday, but it’s not like Francis Tarkenton is a sympathetic figure. He turns 70 today but he’s not a lovable old coot. In fact, Francis is aging like vinegar.
Tarkenton is no dummy, first of all. You don’t play quarterback in the NFL for 18 years with a pea-sized brain.
No, Francis knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s aware of the 24-hour news cycle and he’s counting on the propensity of today’s sports fan to take their history in bite-sized morsels—read, anything that happened before ESPN might as well be printed on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Tarkenton is counting on the vacuum of the sports fan’s memory while he continues to assail Brett Favre.
I’m not a Favre guy, necessarily, but right is right and wrong is wrong.
Pot, meet kettle.
Tarkenton has had a burr up his heinie about Favre ever since last summer, when he openly wished Brett nothing but the worst as Favre vacillated over whether to sign with the Minnesota Vikings or not. It wasn’t the first time that Francis had taken Favre to task.
So Tarkenton was like a dog in heat in the wake of the NFC Championship Game, when Favre’s brutal interception late in the game pretty much killed the Vikings’ chances of overcoming the New Orleans Saints.
Tarkenton was so eager to talk, that he did so to a Philadelphia radio station—97.5 FM.
“I have never seen any quarterback much less, well he is going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback, make plays like that at a critical time,” Tarkenton said of Favre’s infamously reckless style of play. “He has done the same thing in the Giants game (a Packers loss in the 2007 NFC title game). He plays at home, has the better team and plays against Eli (Manning). He was a young kid right? And he throws the pick … and then he does what he did the other night which was just shameful because great quarterbacks, and he is a great quarterback, they don’t do that. You don’t see Peyton Manning do that.”
What Tarkenton didn’t say, and what he won’t say, because he likes his history selective and convenient, is that Favre leads Francis in Super Bowl wins, one to nothing.
Tarkenton doesn’t want you to remember that he’s a three-time Super Bowl loser, and he’s hardly an innocent victim in any of them.
Tarkenton is clearly deserved of his Hall of Fame status, but when it came to the Big One, Francis shrunk more than a wool sweater in a dryer.
Tarkenton can piss and moan all he wants about Favre and his clunky “retirements” and his daring to play for the Packers’ rivals in Minnesota—Tarkenton said he couldn’t see himself retiring as a Packer, for example—but the fact is that Favre has won a Super Bowl and Tarkenton didn’t even come close, even though he made it to three of them.
Tarkenton’s Vikings went to three Super Bowls in four seasons, and in all three of them they were manhandled, chewed up and spit out, by three different opponents.
In all instances, it was Tarkenton’s poor play that set the tone for his team’s demise.
Good thing there are other old coots around like present company to dust off the record books.
I can see why Tarkenton would like us to erase everything pre-ESPN.
The numbers aren’t pretty.
In his three trips to Super Sunday, Tarkenton completed 46 of 89 passes—barely 50 percent—for 489 yards. It gets worse. He threw for one TD pass and SIX interceptions. His cumulative passer rating? A ghoulish 43.7.
And he has the gall to call Brett Favre out for crumbling under pressure?
Tarkenton apparently bleeds purple, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s actually endearing to see former players defend the honor of their old teams. But there’s nothing endearing about one Hall of Famer trashing another—especially when the trasher has as many legs to stand on as an overturned bar stool.
The sad thing here is that both Tarkenton and Favre, at their best, were two of the most fun quarterbacks to ever watch play—Tarkenton for his daredevil scrambling, and Favre for his gunslinging style.
Francis Tarkenton drove his fair share of coaches batty, too—believe me. And he played more than a small role in leading the Vikings—his precious Vikings—to ruin in no less than three Super Bowls.
I can see why he’d like us to forget.