While my omission of Bud Grant may have caused the biggest stir in the Vikings’ Mt. Rushmore process, the guy who led the way in PFT Planet voting had some strong words, too.
Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton joined Pro Football Talk on NBCSN to reflect on his career with the Vikings, and to give an assessment of the current team.
“I think this is a big year for Christian Ponder,” Tarkenton said of his current successor. “He had signs last year of being ready to play and he played well the second half of the year. We’ve got Adrian Peterson who is the greatest running back since Jimmy Brown. He’s the only running back I’ve ever said this, better than Jimmy Brown, I think he is. So, you get single coverage and that makes it good for the quarterback. Christian Ponder has got to step it up this year and prove he’s the guy. I think it’s a pivotal year for him. If he can play at the ability level that I think he has, I think that this will be a very special team this year.”
Asked by Erik Kuselias for his gut-level feeling on Ponder, Tarkenton was candid — even though he couldn’t provide a clear answer.
“I don’t know,” Tarkenton said. “My gut doesn’t tell me either way. He’s got to show me. I’d like to see a little more fire in his belly. I’d like to see him use his legs more. He’s a smart kid. He really is smart. He’s got a good arm but you’ve got to have all those intangibles. He’s got to take over and lead the team and put the team on his shoulders and they got to come to the sideline and they got to come to the huddle and say, ‘You’re the guy, you got to pull this thing out for us.’ If he’s got that, and he might, he’s going to have to show up this year. This will be his third year. This is the year that he should start making a real, significant move.”
Tarkenton made plenty of significant moves for the Vikings, starting with the first game in franchise history — a 38-13 win over the Bears. His attitude toward his three Super Bowl losses was that the Vikings simply ran out of time. Tarkenton also added a name to the Mt. Rushmore that was omitted from the fan list, and everyone else’s.
For the full segment with Tarkenton, click that little circle thing below.