Fran Tarkenton
Fran-Tarkenton Vikings.jpg
Personal Information
Jersey #(s)
Born Francis Asbury Tarkenton
February 3 1940 (1940-02-03) (age 81) in Blacksburg, Virginia
Career information
Year(s) 19611978
High School Athens High School, Athens, Georgia
College Georgia
Professional teams
Career stats
Pass Attempts/Completions/Comp. Pct.(%) 6,467/3,686/57.0 %
Pass TDs-Interceptions 342 TDs-266 INTs
Pass Yards/Passer Rating 47,003 Passing yards/80.4 Rtg.
Career highlights and awards

  • 1975 AP NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP)
  • 1975 NFL Offensive Player of the Year,
  • 1975 UPI NFC Player of the Yea,
  • 1975 Bert Bell Award winner,
  • 1964 NFL Pro Bowl MVP
  • 9× Pro Bowl selection (1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976)
  • 3× NFC Champion (1973, 1974, 1976)
  • Minnesota Vikings #10 Retired, Ring of Honor
  • Minnesota Vikings 25th Anniversary Team
    Minnesota Vikings 40th Anniversary Team
  • 50 Greatest Vikings (NFL)
  • Minnesota Vikings
    Career Passing Yards (33,098)
  • Minnesota Vikings
    Career Passing TDs (239)

Francis Asbury "Fran" Tarkenton (born February 3, 1940) is a former professional football player, TV personality, and computer software executive. He is best known for playing with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, as well as serving as a commentator on Monday Night Football and a co-host of That's Incredible!. At the time of his retirement he owned every major quarterback record. Tarkenton also founded Tarkenton Software, a computer-program generator company, and he toured the U.S. promoting CASE (computer-aided software engineering) with Albert F. Case, Jr. of Nastec Corporation. Tarkenton Software later merged with KnowledgeWare (with Tarkenton as president), until selling the company to Sterling Software in 1994.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Fran was born in Richmond, VA. His father, Dallas Tarkenton, Sr., was a pentecostal minister.[1] Fran Tarkenton went to Athens HS in Athens, VA, and later attended the The University of Georgia, where he was the quarterback on the Bulldog football team. He led Georgia to the 1959 SEC Championship under Coach Wally Butts. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Also, in Tarkenton's early years he was a member of the Masonic Youth Group Demolay.

NFL Playing Career[edit | edit source]

The Minnesota Vikings (1961-1966)[edit | edit source]

The NFL's Minnesota Vikings drafted Tarkenton in the third round of the 1961 NFL Draft, and he was picked in the fifth round of the 1961 AFL draft by the Boston Patriots. He signed with the Vikings. Tarkenton, 21, played his first National Football League game (and the Vikings' first game) against the Chicago Bears and led the Vikings to a victory by passing for 250 yards and four touchdown passes as the upstarts stunned the Bears 37–13. He is the only player in NFL history to pass for four touchdowns in his first NFL game. He played for the Vikings from 1961 to 1966, during which time he frequently locked horns with head coach Norm Van Brocklin, who disdained the idea of a mobile quarterback, a concept that Tarkenton dramatically advanced in the NFL. Tarkenton was given the nicknames "The Mad Scrambler," "Frantic Fran," and "Scramblin' Fran" because he frequently ran around in the backfield to avoid being sacked by the opposition (among his other nicknames: "Sir Francis," used occasionally by Howard Cosell of ABC Sports).

New York Giants trade (1967-1971)[edit | edit source]

Tarkenton was traded to the New York Giants in 1967 and played there for five seasons. His efforts helped the Giants rally from the NFL's basement (a 1-12-1 record in 1966) to better times. In the first game of the 1969 season, Tarkenton's Giants played the Vikings. After trailing 23-10 in the fourth quarter, Tarkenton threw two touchdown passes to secure a 24-23 comeback victory over his former team. The 24 points allowed by Minnesota's defense would be a season-worst for the unit that would finish #1 in dominant fashion.

Return to the Vikings (1972-1978)[edit | edit source]

Tarkenton was traded back to Minnesota in 1972. He led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s, but lost all of them. In Tarkenton's first Super Bowl appearance they lost to the Miami Dolphins 24–7 in Houston, they lost the second to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a defensive struggle 16-6 in New Orleans, and in the last Super Bowl Tarkenton would ever play, the Vikings were blown out by the Oakland Raiders 32-14 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Tarkenton won the NFL's MVP award after the 1975 season, capturing All-Pro honors in the process. Tarkenton was also second Team All-Pro in 1973 and earned All-NFC selection in 1972 and 1976. He was named second Team All-NFC in 1970 and 1974. Tarkenton was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls.

Retirement and Pro Football HOF enshrinement[edit | edit source]

In his 18 NFL seasons, Tarkenton completed 3,686 of 6,467 passes for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns, with 266 interceptions. Tarkenton's 47,003 career passing yards rank him 6th all time, while his 342 career passing touchdowns is 4th all time in NFL history.[4] He also is fifth on the all-time list of wins by a starting quarterback with 124 regular season victories. He also used his impressive scrambling ability to rack up 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries. During his career, Tarkenton ran for a touchdown in 15 different seasons, an NFL record among quarterbacks. He ranks fourth in career rushing yards among quarterbacks, behind Randall Cunningham, Steve Young and Michael Vick. He is also one of two NFL quarterbacks ever to rush for at least 300 yards in seven different seasons; the other is Tobin Rote. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Vikings head coach Bud Grant flatly called Tarkenton "the greatest quarterback who's ever played." When he retired, Tarkenton held NFL career records in pass attempts, completions, yardage, and touchdowns; rushing yards by a quarterback; and wins by a starting quarterback.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Tarkenton's first marriage was to Anna Elaine Merrell of Decatur, GA. They wed on December 22, 1960, at First Baptist Church in Decatur. [2] Tarkenton, his second wife Linda, and daughter Hayley currently reside in the Buckhead Community of Atlanta, Georgia. They also enjoy spending time at their home located on the shores of Lake Burton in Rabun County, Georgia, and playing golf at Waterfall Country Club, which overlooks Lake Burton and the surrounding mountains. They also spend much of their time traveling.

References[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

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