Fran Tarkenton Was the Greatest Quarterback, Ever!
He wasn’t only the greatest of his era, Fran Tarkenton was the greatest quarterback in NFL history. I’ll make my case.
He put up some of the best passing numbers of his career throwing to Homer Jones. Who? Homer Jones.
When he retired, he was ranked atop the pile in yards passing for a career. He did it during an era when the run was still dominant.
Some years ago, Terry Bradshaw criticized his former rival. He called Tarkenton a “dinker”. It means Tarkenton picked up a lot of short yards flipping the ball to his backs or tight ends. I’ll note Joe Montana threw mostly short passes. He had a set of Hall of Fame receivers and backs. Sir Francis rarely had no such talent to then stretch the completions into long gains.
Bradshaw turned professional with a dreadful Steelers team. Within a few short years, he was also surrounded by Hall of Fame backs and receivers, Hall of Fame blocking and the greatest defense of all time kept giving him back the ball. Tarkenton spent his first half dozen years with an expansion team. Can you name any of his receivers from those days? He had a couple of years when he handed the ball off to Hugh McElhenny when the great runner had been in the NFL for a decade and was well past his prime.
After 6 seasons with the Vikings, the quarterback was exiled to New York where he spent 5 years with a miserable Giants club. He put up some of the best passing numbers of his career throwing to Homer Jones. Who? Homer Jones. Don’t remember the name? Jones had tremendous speed but teammates joked he was so incredibly dumb he could never remember his passing routes and, yet. Tarkenton made the guy look good. In 1972, Fran returned to Minnesota. He was throwing passes to the likes of John Gilliam and Ron Yary. The latter made the Hall of Fame. He was a converted tackle. Again, Tarkenton elevated the game. Gilliam was a journeyman who played for 5 NFL squads and one in the forgettable World Football League. As a wide receiver, he spent 4 years in Minnesota catching passes from, you guessed it, Francis Asbury Tarkenton. All four years Gilliam made the Pro Bowl. The only 4 years he was an all-star. Ahmad Rashad had been bouncing around football for a half-dozen years when he joined the Vikings. Catching passes from our man the wide-out immediately became an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl selection. It was only late in Tarkenton’s career he had two stellar wide receivers. Rashad and Sammy White.
The greatest quarterback of all-time made three Super Bowls and came away with no championships. The Vikings had an aging defense and the front line had to drop weight to maintain speed. The game was evolving and the teams Minnesota lost to in those three contests all had massive offensive lines. The Vikings defense simply got run over. Fran could only watch from the sidelines.
For almost two decades, Tarkenton played Sunday afternoons with a dispensation. A devout Christian, his church frowned on games and work on the Sabbath. Hats off to my greatest hero and the greatest quarterback. Ever! All-time!