Fran Tarkenton says Johnny Manziel is closest he’s seen to himself


Fran Tarkenton is a Johnny Football fan.

The former quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants overcame his smaller stature to make the Hall of Fame after 18 seasons in the NFL. Tarkenton’s ability to improvise and make plays on the run were what made him a special player.

Tarkenton sees many of those same traits in Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback that could be a Top 5 pick in May’s NFL Draft.

“Nobody really played like I played. This kid plays like I did more than anybody else,” Tarkenton said, via Jim Corbett of USA Today.

Manziel has thrown for 7,820 yards with 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions over the last two seasons at Texas A&M. He checked in just shy of six feet tall at the NFL combine, measuring in at 5-foot-11 and 3/4 – shorter than Tarkenton (6-foot) but taller than Seattle’s Russell Wilson (5-foot-10 and 5/8).

Tarkenton downplayed any thought Manziel’s size would hinder him at the NFL level. He feels Manziel has “an instinctive vision” and proved his ability in two games against Alabama, But Tarkenton added Manziel won’t be able to run as much and will have to learn how to adjust in the NFL.

Tarkenton did say teams will have to make sure they understand the off-field exploits of Manziel and be comfortable with his prior actions. But, Tarkenton added, Manziel has “franchise qualities.”

“He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to myself,” Tarkenton said. “Russell Wilson has some of it. But Manziel has those similarities even more so than Russell.

“Manziel is a quarterback savant.”

39 responses to “Fran Tarkenton says Johnny Manziel is closest he’s seen to himself

  1. If he falls to 8, the Kings have to pull the trigger. I would be ok with Mortgaging next years 1 for him as well in a trade up, with Zimmers defense, we need that “it” factor to win an extra 2-3 wins a season. In the current state of the NFC North that’s playoff city baby.

  2. I see where you’re going with this, Fran. Manziel is a savant… Manziel is a lot like you… therefore, you are a savant. And modest!

  3. He means JF will scramble around running for his life for his entire career, pass for a gazillion yards and never win the big one?

    Could be. FT is a narcissist savant.

  4. Just how large is Fran Tarkenton’s ego? If what he is saying is that Johnny Manziel will never win a Superbowl, (just like Fran never did) then I would agree.

    I hope the Vikings draft Manziel just to complete the circle. He might dazzle a play or two, here or there, but in the final analysis, he will never be a franchise QB nor would Spielman recognize one or draft one.

  5. Watched this kid play last year. Reminds me of Ryan Leaf and Jeff George level of immaturity.

  6. I smell a bust. Fran Tarkenton and Brett Favre are both bragging this guy is the second coming of themselves? Sure. Let’s see him play first, shall we?

  7. I always liked Tarkenton but, I am skeptical he would have the same success today. This is not disrespect for Tarkenton, it is rather respect for the improved athleticism of the current defenders, especially linemen. (The numbers coming out of the recent Combine should bear that out.)

    Remember Ryan Leaf, JeMarcus Russell, Vince Young, and Tim Tebow were all considered sure hits at one time, too. So much depends on how much Manziel is willing to put in (and grow up) and the coaching he gets.

    As a Browns fan, I wish we could reap those benefits but, with our history of destroying QB’s, NOT developing them, I just don’t see it for the Browns….not yet, anyway.

    Manziel needs to be mentored by someone like Peyton, Brady or even Aaron Rogers….the same teams that find those diamonds among the undrafted free agents.

  8. Tarkenton said all of this while wearing a t-shirt with his own picture on it, right?

  9. NO, NO, NO… Run Browns. This guy just makes me nervous. He’s Colt McCoy with a big mouth. Take Watkins at #4. Anyone but this guy.

  10. “He checked in just shy of six feet tall at the NFL combine, measuring in at 5-foot-11 and 3/4 – shorter than Tarkenton (6-foot) but taller than Seattle’s Russell Wilson (5-foot-10 and 5/8).

    As one who admired Frances, I’ll remind him that it’s not about height. True, both guys scrambled, while Wilson is a more conventional QB, who has a real NFL arm. Tarkenton has a good arm, but had Gene Washington and Ahmad Rashad to throw to. (great receivers) Johnny Wildcat, is a runner with a weak arm, who without WR Evans, we wouldn’t even be talking about.

    The one real comparison between Tarkenton and Johnny, is that neither has won a Super Bowl. Two years ago Frances claimed Wilson was like him, now it’s Manziel. I loved the guy, but he just sounds like he’s trying to reanimate his defunct football life.

  11. So a small, undersized, mouthy QB that never won anything?

    Seems like after hearing Fran open his yap here in MN for years he might actually know what he is talking about.

  12. All these comparisons are comical, one day he’s Favre, now Tarkenton, can he play a few downs on Sunday before we anoint him a superstar or scrub.

  13. ravenswhat says: Mar 11, 2014 7:16 AM

    But Russell is a SB champion after his 2nd year. Johnny football will be selling used cars at his daddy’s car lot after year 2.

    I see bust all over Manziel too. But selling used cars?! C’mon man.

    Dude just signed with Nike for deca millions. He’s earned my respect as a money earner already. QB skills in the NFL will remain to be seen though.

  14. Good luck to Manziel. Let me know when he wins a Superbowl. Then maybe we have this conversation.

    Until then, all these haters need to keep Wilson’s name out of their mouth. You are talking about the reigning World Champion QB.

    I don’t see a ring on Fran, so he needs to stop trying to veil his old-man racism with transparent bragging.

    If anything, Fran Tarkenton owes Russell Wilson a gift basket for the free publicity. Until people started making the Tarkenton comparisons, I didn’t even know who he was. Just another second-place has-been loser. History forgets those.


  15. I don’t know much about all the big QB’s except the same old mantra i hear every year about how much the obvious top of the class will suck in the NFL and they are overrated. If Manziel is there at 8 (which I highly doubt) he’ll be drafted.

  16. Everybody is a critic when it comes to the top QB’s in every draft. If Manziel is still there at 8, he’s getting drafted. I don’t think he’ll fall that far though.

  17. If you can’t show some respect for Fran then please just be quiet. He changed the QB position and the way the game was played period! Fran Tarkenton was the original scrambler while everyone else was still a pocket passer and defenses did not know what to do with him. I still remember the Mean Joe Green interview talking about Tark. That vaunted “Steel Curtain” had no answers for what Tark was laying down. I have been a Vikings fan for 42 yrs since I was 7 and Fran and the Purple People Eater defense of Eller, Page, Marshall and Larsen made me a die hard fan at that age. 42 yrs strong as a Vikings fan. Please show a little respect for the man that made it possible for you even to be talking about the way Wilson plays right now. I love you Fran, you are my hero and always will be. I will bleed purple til the day I die.

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