Tarkenton is the greatest of all time, says Tarkenton

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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.

100 responses to “Tarkenton is the greatest of all time, says Tarkenton

  1. I’ve been a Dolphins fan all my life and I love Dan Marino but I’m not delusional enough to think he’s the greatest of all time.

    My vote is to Joe Montana 🙂

  2. Fran Tarkenton’s still alive? Great for him, I guess. He sounds kinda grumpy. Maybe some prunes would help.

  3. Haha, I never knew Fran was so bitter, ego-centric and delusional. Did I forget to mention humble?

    I loved him in his time, but he is at the bottom of the Top 10 or possibly in the next group of 5.

  4. I don’t see anything wrong about Tarkenton having some pride in himself and what he accomplished in his career. He gives other guys credit. He’s rightfully proud of himself.

  5. As someone who became a football fan in the 1970s, I’ve long admired Fran Tarkenton. … Hence, for me, this is really sad to read. Nothing makes an all-time great look smaller than seeing him blow his own horn, especially when it’s so entrenched in resentment and insecurity.

    In the end, Fran Tarkenton may be the greatest dual threat QB of all time. He’s one of the best ever passers and as a scrambler, he made folks like Joe Theismann and Jim Zorn look like Dan Marino.

    BEST ever QB? For me, it’s between Joe Montana and Peyton Manning.

  6. now go back and read his comments in Si Robertson’s voice……..a very “hey” and “jack” thrown in there and it is as close as it gets.

  7. Dang, Fran sure sounds down on himself. What can we do to help solve his self-esteem issues?

    (sarcasm off)

    One thing we know about every “best of all time” debate is that there is never a clear answer. You just can’t compare different eras accurately. For example – how good would Night Train Lane be in the current era where no one is allowed to tackle anybody?

  8. Best all-time scrambler … no doubt. Best all-around QB … not even close. My choice is Unitas #1 followed by Montana.

  9. One thing about great QB’s, there have been few that were particularly modest. But that’s understandable, as passive, quiet guys are going to have trouble leading their teams in noisy arenas. Joe Namath comes to mind; he was flashy and flamboyant, but terse in his statements. He stated simply that the Jets were going to beat the Colts (and the sports media laughed), and went out and did it. But I don’t remember a lot of post-game bragging from him. Montana was subdued in his pre-game remarks and let his play, speak for him. Terry Bradshaw on the other hand, could talk a deaf man to death. Then there’s guys like Michael Vick, who haven’t done much of anything, and want to take all day to tell us about it.

    Tark, shut your trap and let your record speak for itself. You’ll get more respect that way.

  10. Fran was a great player – no doubt about that. It’s interesting, though, that not even he brings up maybe the best all-time “winner” – Otto Graham. By the measure of the NFL Championship – not just post 1966 “Super Bowl”, Graham should be the best, right?

  11. No surprise here – a former viking player acting just as delusionally as the current fans do.

    On a side note, Fran did a decent job on “That’s Incredible”, if I remember correctly. And Cathy Lee Crosby was pretty hot.

  12. He’s the best of his era, but I’d still take Marino over him, and I’d still take Manning over Marino and everybody else for that matter.

  13. Wow, a lot to take in there.

    On the one hand, the critics of Tarkenton have some valid points about the three Super Bowl losses, but I honestly don’t put that on Tarkenton alone. The one thing that Bud Grant never did was put the Vikings on any weight training program, not even the interior lineman. Go back and look at those three losses Tarkenton was a part of, and you’ll see the Viking OL get dominated in each of those games. The reality of it is that the Vikings didn’t bring their ‘A’ game to any of those four Super Bowls, and that’s why they lost each of them.

    On the other hand, the stats that Tarkenton amassed during his career are perhaps the most impressive of any QB of all time when considering the era in which he played. In 18 seasons, Tarkenton threw 342 TDs, had more passes attempted and completed, and threw for 47,003 yards. Yet Tarkenton never threw more than 25 TDs in a season, and never came close to throwing for 4,000 yards in a season. He also retired with more wins than any QB, and held that record until John Elway broke it nearly 20 years later. As for the postseason, despite those three SB losses, Tarkenton had a 6-5 record.

    Tarkenton was amazingly consistent, and his records stood for 17 years following his retirement. No other QB who has set the new records since (Marino, Favre, and soon Peyton Manning) will have those records stand that long. Super Bowl or no Super Bowl, those are impressive numbers.

    What was most shameful about his treatment is that he was not a first ballot Hall of Famer. If Warren Moon (2-8 postseason record) and Jim Kelly (0-4 in SB) can get in on the first ballot, Tarkenton certainly should have as well.

  14. Tarkenton is a hall of famer, so its not like he was never recognized as being great.

    What I remember most about seeing Tarkenton play is the way the dude could scramble around in the backfield and then ultimately complete a pass. He has to be the all time leading QB in yards run behind the line of scrimage. I wouldn’t include him in the conversation of best QBs of all time, but I do think he is the greatest scrambling QB of all time.

  15. Fran definitely deserves to be in the conversation.

    The rules were beyond totally different, and he is in the TOP 5 in every category.

    It is unfair to keep him off the list, but the guy was the best of his era.

    Montana was the best in his era.

    Favre the best in his, and Peyton the best in his.

    Eras do matter, as the game has changed drastically.

    I always liked Fran in that he spoke his mind, that’s what makes him the competitor he was/is.

    Fran THE MAN!!!!

  16. If we are talking greatest qb who had the best team, definitely Montana, if we’re talking greatest skilled qb of all time, no question it’s Marino, he made defenses look silly in an era where the offense wasn’t favored. It’s unfortunate he never had great defenses or other players on offense to help him win.

  17. I may not agree with Fran as him being the best of all time (Joe Montana, yes);but he certainly deserves to be remembered in conversations, and spoken of more often as one of the all-time greats. In his playing days he garnered the attention for, and was well deserving of superstardom. And, about him blowing his on horn, he proves just as gutsy. If no one is going recognize, he’s going handle his business, and get it done.

  18. He makes valid points. I can respect him for being man enough to rank PFM above all others and to me it validates his claim. I will not consider him the greatest because obviously PFM is the best quarterback ever, including all future quarterbacks until football is no longer played and the human being becomes extinct, but as for now I will throw him in the top 5.

    1. Peyton F’n Manning
    2. Joe Montana
    3. Johnny Unitas
    4. Tom Brady
    5. This guy

  19. When he says he’s the greatest of all time, is he talking about greatest host of “That’s Incredible”? I think Cathy Lee Crosby would get my vote!

  20. It would have to be a really, really long conversation before Frantic Fran was made a part of it.
    And it’s pretty amazing that he saw Bart Starr QB five world titles – including a never-done three in a row – but doesn’t mention him.

  21. “[T]hat idiot, Jim Irsay, talked about Peyton Manning,” Tarkenton said. “So Joe Montana is better than him because Joe Montana won four?

    Yes Fran, that’s exactly what it means.

    I didn’t realize the fact that Montana is better than Manning was even a thing up for a discussion. Weird.

  22. jgedgar70 says: Nov 20, 2013 3:20 PM

    Dang, Fran sure sounds down on himself. What can we do to help solve his self-esteem issues?

    (sarcasm off)

    One thing we know about every “best of all time” debate is that there is never a clear answer. You just can’t compare different eras accurately. For example – how good would Night Train Lane be in the current era where no one is allowed to tackle anybody?
    The question should be how the players of today would fair based up their rules and see long they would last.

  23. I cast my vote for the Hall-of-Fame QB who played for 10 yrs. and took his team to the championship of his league on 10 occasions, winning 7 of those yrs.: Otto Graham.

  24. Fran is the Man. There is no “best” QB of all time. They all played in different times of the NFL. Him, Brady, Manning, Unitas, Montana, and Marino are all the best in their eras

  25. If Fran and the Vikes went 2-2, maybe even 1-3, in those super bowls he would be put on many lists as one of the best ever.

    Strange how a team game can diminish individual accolades such as ‘best ever’ lists.

  26. For what it’s worth, the NFL only had 14 games/season back then as well. The fact that his records are still “in the top 5” in many categories is pretty impressive.

  27. Best of all time? I don’t think so. I think its tough to say who actually is. Although Fran is a nice guy. As a young kid I went to many Giants practices at Yankee Stadium, probably around 1969-1970. There was never too many people there, football wasn’t huge like it is today, and sometimes we got to stand on the field. He talked with my dad and I a few times and I still have a football used in practice that he signed and gave to me. That was huge for a 10 year old kid. So, Fran is #1 with me personally.

  28. You went to the big show 3 Xs & came up empty. No sir you are not clutch when it most counted so you do not get an invite to be the king of the hill.

    If I’m picking a team to play for the Superbowl I am picking either Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw as my QB. It’s a toss up who’d be the third pick… Unitas & Starr were before my time so maybe Elway, Manning or Brady.

  29. Best QB ever (regular season) Manning would be near the top. Best QB ever (reg. season plus playoffs) Manning moves down the list. His post season stats are mediocre. The greatest players rise to the occasion, not shrink like Peyton has done all too often.

  30. Well business may have made Fran a little delusional but getting to four Super Bowls says something on his ability. How many QB’s can say they competed in four Super Bowls. Jim Kelly is one, how can anyone discount the ability of either player. Fran and Jim were both elite NFL quarterbacks in their day.

  31. Well as long as ‘ol Fran thinks he’s the best ever, then that’s all that really matters now, isn’t it?I can think of atleast 15 other QBs I’d rather have on my team. Good for his time, but FAR from the best ever. VERY far.

  32. He takes every chance to hate on other past QB greats and every chance to praise himself. Someone with a handful of SB rings needs to slap this guy.

  33. right don’t say a word and let your records speak for themselves. except nobody mentions him or any of the all time greats anymore. they are to busy promoting the flavor of the month as the greatest of all time. kaperneck and rg3 are the best thing since sliced bread remember? so how is their year going again? according to you and all the experts kap was underpaid and needed an immediate upgrade in salary as soon he was eligible, thankfully for the 49er’s they had to wait until after his 3rd year or he would be grossly overpaid this year. rg3 had a injury although according to him he was as good as new to start the season and now that he is not living up to his hype it is the system’s fault he is having a bad year. you know the same system that made him all the rage last year and 1 of the greatest of all time. Tarkenton earned the right to talk about and brag about himself all he wants super bowl win or not he was still a helluva a player.

  34. I guess I’m the one of the few who doesn’t think Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback of all Time. I have my arguments. 49ers did just fine after he left, in fact the offense was even better when Steve Young took over…Common denominator? Jerry Rice greatest football player of all time.

    I think Fran has good point. I’ve always had him in my top ten and I agree with him. Its a silly argument when people compare superbowl winning quarterbacks to quarterbacks who don’t win superbowls…Trent Dilfer isn’t better then Warren Moon…Ben Rothlisberger isn’t better then Dan Marino…get real

  35. If you wanna be in the discussion of “greatest quarterback” of all time these 5 things need to happen…

    1. Get drafted number 1 and have that pressure
    2. Take on a failing franchise
    3. Win a Super bowl
    4. Win multiple passing titles
    5. Be in the top 5 all time in Yardage and Td’s

    Its exactly why Peyton is the greatest of all time bar none.

  36. “I completely agree that Fran Tarkenton is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game,” said absolutely no one.

  37. Those who use winning a Super Bowl as qualifier as being the best ever forget that it takes a team to win a Super Bowl.Ask John Elway,Until Terrell Davis came along ,John Elway lost every Super Bowl he was in.The same with Tom Brady.NE hasn’t won since the defense re-tooled

  38. The vikes played the steelers raiders and dolphins in those Super Bowls with Fran. Cut him some slack.

  39. Viking fans all dumping on the Viking version of Favre? Why? They owe him everything. They are ungrateful.

  40. Still love how people think qb’s win super bowls all by themselves.

    Marino is the greatest of all time, to do what he did with sub par talent on offense and no defense his whole career, he didn’t have teams like Montana, elway, aikman or others with rings, he never had a losing season, took his team to the playoffs all but two years of his 17 year career I believe, only one I would say has as much pure talent at the qb position is p.manning. imo anyway.

  41. A piece of humble pie may be needed for Fran at the turkey day dinner table.

    Although you can’t argue that he’s right about still being very high in the rankings still even though he hasn’t played since the 70’s.

  42. All-Time Offense

    QB- Joe Montana
    RB- Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell
    WR- Jerry Rice, Randy Moss
    TE- Kellen Winslow
    OL- Hogs

    All-Time Defense

    DL- Purple People Eaters
    Linebackers- LT, Butkus, Derrick Thomas
    CB- Deon, Hayes
    Safety’s- Lott, Reed

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