Fran Tarkenton (born February 3, 1940) is best known as an American football player.
Fran Tarkenton was born in Blacksburg, Virginia, and later attended the University of Georgia where he was the quarterback on the Bulldog football team. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 1961 in the 6th round. He came into his first NFL game (also the first game for the Vikings) against the Chicago Bears and led the Vikings to a victory by passing for 250 yards as the upstarts stunned the Bears 37-13.
Tarkenton played for the Vikings from 1961 to 1966, during this time he developed the nickname scrambler as he ran around the backfield to avoid being sacked by the opposition (this behavior also led to the nickname Frantic Fran). Tarkenton was traded to the New York Giants in 1967 and played there until 1972 when he was traded back to Minnesota. He lead the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s, but lost them all.
Tarkenton won the NFL's MVP award after the 1975 season, capturing All-Pro honors in the process. Tarkenton was also 2nd Team All-Pro in 1973 and earned All-NFC selection in 1972 & 1976. Fran was named 2nd Team All-NFC in 1970 & 1974. Tarkenton was selected to play in 9 Pro Bowls.
In his 18 NFL seasons, Tarkenton completed 3,686 passes for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns. He also used his impressive scrambling ability to rack up 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries. At the time of his retirement, Tarkenton held almost every single NFL passing record. He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, and is widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time due to his running and passing ability. But even so, his poor performance in 3 super bowls and his inability to win a championship ring in 18 seasons prevents many people from considering him as great as other famous quarterbacks like Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and John Elway.
But the worst loss of Tarkenton's career occurred during the 1975 NFC Divisional Playoffs. In that game the Vikings (a team that year thought to be the Best Viking team ever) lost to the Dallas Cowboys 17-14 on a controversial Touchdown pass from Dallas' Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson. Some say that Pearson interfered with defender Nate Wright while running his route. The call so incensed fans that one fan threw a glass bottle onto the field, striking an official in the head. This was partially responsible for the banning of glass bottles at arenas around the country. Tarkenton also lost his dad that year while he was watching that infamous playoff game.
Fran Tarkenton later appeared on the television show That's Incredible! and also worked part time on Monday Night Football.
Fran Tarkenton also headed up the now defunct software company KnowledgeWare until selling the company to Sterling Software in 1995. Since then Fran has been seen promoting various products and services including Tony Robbins and prepaid legal services.
Fran Tarkenton and his family, including daughter Hayley, currently reside in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, Georgia.