The debate regarding the greatest quarterback of all time includes many candidates. One candidate who rarely is included believes he’s the best choice for the title.
Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who retired with all major career passing records, believes he’s the best quarterback who ever played the game.
“I feel like I can outplay any of the quarterbacks that ever played,” Tarkenton told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Go look at my record. Go look at my record in that era and what I did, the results that I got from passing and rushing. . . In my mind, I played better than anybody that has ever played the position.”
Tarkenton, as explained by Tomasson, continues to reside among the all-time leaders in the four primary categories: attempts, completions, yards, touchdown passes.
“It’s amazing,” Tarkenton said. “I haven’t played the game since the 1970s and I’m still up in the top five or six. Think of that. Who else of my era is even close? . . . The game has changed, and I’m still sitting up there in pretty good position.’’
He’s omitted from the discussion regarding the best ever because his teams never were the best in the league. Of the Vikings’ four Super Bowl losses, Tarkenton was on the team for three.
And it still bothers him to this day.
“[Coach] Bud [Grant] moved on the day after they lost,” Tarkenton said. “But not me. I’ve not forgotten. Every day and every night, it pisses me off.”
He knows that the failure to win a Super Bowl keeps him off the short list, even though Dan Marino, who failed to win a Super Bowl in a more wide-open passing era, is on it.
“They will never mention me,” Tarkenton said. “That’s fine. Because we never won a Super Bowl.’’
Naturally, Tarkenton thinks winning Super Bowls is an overrated measure of a quarterback’s worth.
“[T]hat idiot, Jim Irsay, talked about Peyton Manning,” Tarkenton said. “So Joe Montana is better than him because Joe Montana won four and Terry Bradshaw is because he won four. It’s stupid. . . .
“When the pundits talk about the best of all time, they don’t mention much of Peyton because he’s only won one. They mention Montana and [John] Unitas and now [Tom] Brady. But you tell me who has had the better career at quarterback, Brady or Peyton Manning? I’ll tell you, Peyton Manning by far.’’
Still, Manning isn’t better than Tarkenton, in Tarkenton’s mind.
“I’ll give him 1b,” Tarkenton said.
While it’s hard to see Tarkenton as the best ever, it’s easy to see that he should at least have a higher spot in the conversation than he does. Tarkenton was a dominant passer long before the rules were revised to allow passers to dominate.