There have been more successful quarterbacks in NFL history. There have been better quarterbacks in NFL history. But there has never been a quarterback that I loved half so well as Francis Asbury Tarkenton. And now, years after his retirement, he proves that he can be every bit as entertaining as a football observer as he was scrambling around buying time in the backfield:
“I think it’s despicable. What he put the Packers through last year was not good,” said Tarkenton, who played for the Vikings from 1961-66 and again from 1972-78. ”Here’s an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn’t about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favre’s of the world so much, they think it’s about them. He goes to New York and bombs. He’s 39 years old. How would you like Ray Nitschke in his last year [playing for] the Vikings, or I retire, and go play for the Packers? I kind of hope it happens, so he can fail.”
“He told the Packers ‘I’m retiring,’” Tarkenton said. “They’ve got to move on. They’ve got to go through their offseason plan, their workouts, they go with the other quarterback, who is a good player, and then comes back and says, ‘I think I want to play.’ … You build your team in the offseason. Everybody knows that. It’s about team. It’s not about Brett Favre. So he goes and runs up to the Jets, doesn’t even dress in the locker room with the players. Has a separate facility. Playing quarterback is about the relationships you have with your coaches, with your players, with your trainers, with your managers. How can you do that if you show up on gameday and you haven’t put the time in. And now he’s trying to do it again in Minnesota. And if Minnesota bites, God bless them…. I understand he’s been glorified so much. He’s been a great player, there’s no question about it, but it’s all about him. It is supposed to be all about your team. If you’re going to be the quarterback of your team, you need to be there in the offseason workouts in March and April. Peyton Manning’s there. Tom Brady’s there. I think he has been a great flamboyant quarterback, but he has made more stupid plays than any great quarterback that I’ve ever seen.”
All I know is that as a Vikings fan, I never feared Brett Favre. Never. Sure, sometimes he’d beat you with a lightning strike from that cannon arm, but just as often – more often – he’d beat the Packers with an untimely interception. Now, I can’t honestly say with complete certainty that even an injured, nearly washed-up Favre wouldn’t be in the Vikings’ best interest this season, since I have reservations about Sage Rosenfels and the team has been essentially without an actual quarterback for three years, but I suspect No. 10 is probably correct.