In 1961, a quarterback with a new style and with a new team entered the NFL; Fran Tarkenton with the Minnesota Vikings. Tarkenton moved around to find receivers in a almost haphazard manner. Unlike Randall Cunningham, his mobility was not designed to gain yards. Nevertheless, he could and did gain yardage if required. When he retired after 1978, this player had every passing and yards gained rushing record for quarterbacks.
Despite his style Tarkenton was only injured once. In game nine in 1977, Fran Tarkenton was headed to the record books at home with the Cincinnati Bengals. After going 17 for 18 for 195 yards and a touchdown, he broke his leg. He of course missed the final five games. Yet Fran was ready for 1978 season. Despite his accomplishments, it took 13 years for Tarkenton to be a winner. Let’s briefly summarize his stay with each team. I will be more specific later.
Minnesota Vikings 1961 to 1966. Analysts have to make allowances for an expansion team. In these first six years, Vikings had only one winning season. The 8-5-1 record Minnesota posted in 1964 gave promise for the future. Instead the Vikings fell back the next two seasons. After 1966, the Vikings fired head coach Norman Van Brocklin and traded Tarkenton to the New York Giants.
New York Giants 1967 to 1971. There were three mediocre seasons and 1970 for a while looked different. After losing their first three games in 70, the Giants won nine out of ten. The only loss in that streak was a 23 to 20 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. All hopes for the playoffs rested with the final game at Yankee Stadium with Los Angeles. The Rams easily rammed the Giants 31 to 3. Frank Tarkenton saw no post season action and was headed back to Minnesota the following year.
Minnesota Vikings 1972 to 1978. Tarkenton’s first season here was a disaster. They came in at 7-7, their worst record since Bud Grant’s first year in 1967. Many media moguls were rumbling with complaints Any doubts about FT’s ability vanished thereafter. The Vikings went to the Super Bowl three times in next four years. A official’s questionable call in the first round of the 1975 playoffs may have cost them a fourth. Losing all three Super Bowls does not degrade Tarkenton’s accomplishments He finally got the attention he deserved.
Fran Tarkenton went to the Pro Bowl nine times and once an all pro. I will be more specific about this guy later.