Fran the Scrambler
Fran Tarkenton was born in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, and later attended the University of Georgia where he was the quarterback on the Bulldog football team. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 1961 in the third round. He came into his first NFL game (also the first game for the Vikings) against the Chicago Bears and led the Vikings to a victory by passing for 250 yards as the upstarts stunned the Bears 37-13.
Tarkenton played for the Vikings from 1961 to 1966, during this time he developed the nickname Fran the Scrambler as he ran around the backfield to avoid being sacked by the opposition (this behavior also led to the nickname Frantic Fran and the "Wee One"). Tarkenton was traded to the New York Giants in 1967 and played there until 1972 when he was traded back to Minnesota. He led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s, but lost them all.
Tarkenton won the NFL's MVP award after the 1975 season, capturing All-Pro honors in the process. Tarkenton was also 2nd Team All-Pro in 1973 and earned All-NFC selection in 1972 & 1976. Fran was named 2nd Team All-NFC in 1970 and 1974. Tarkenton was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls.
In his 18 NFL seasons, Tarkenton completed 3,686 of 6,467 passes for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns, with 266 interceptions. He also used his impressive scrambling ability to rack up 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries. At the time of his retirement, Tarkenton held almost every single NFL passing record. Tarkenton is third in career rushing yards among NFL quarterbacks, behind only Randall Cunningham and Steve Young. He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, and is widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time due to his running and passing ability. He is also the only NFL quarterback in history to rush for at least 300 yards in seven different seasons.
However, his poor performance in three Super Bowls and his inability to win a championship ring in 18 seasons prevents many people from considering him as great as other famous quarterbacks. Despite not winning a World Championship, in 1999, he was ranked number 59 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
The worst loss of Tarkenton's career occurred during the 1975 NFC Divisional Playoffs. In that game the Vikings (a team that year thought to be the best Viking team ever) lost to the Dallas Cowboys 17-14 on a controversial touchdown pass from Dallas' Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson. Some say that Pearson interfered with defender Nate Wright while running his route. The call so incensed fans that one fan threw a glass bottle onto the field, striking an official in the head. This was partially responsible for the banning of glass bottles at arenas around the country. Tarkenton also lost his dad that year while he was watching that infamous playoff game. It had been rumored that the "Hail Mary Pass" caused the cardiac arrest, but in fact, Mr. Tarkenton passed away during the middle of the fourth quarter. It was a disappointing end to a spectacular season for the Vikings. They had finished the season with an NFC best 12-2 record and Tarkenton had won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award, and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award.
 Post-football life
Tarkenton wrote a book titled Better Scramble than Lose in 1969. The book is autobiographical and seeks to dispel a lot of pervading myths about himself and pro football at the time.
It is not widely known that Fran Tarkenton was also a pioneer in computer software, and founder of Tarkenton Software, a program generator company. Fran toured the United States promoting CASE or computer-aided software engineering with Albert F. Case, Jr. of Nastec Corporation, but ultimately merged his software firm with James Martin's KnowledgeWare, of which Fran was president until selling the company to Sterling Software in 1994. Since then Fran has been seen promoting various products and services including Tony Robbins. He also founded GoSmallBiz.com, a small business consulting website, which also offers its services through Pre-paid Legal Services, Inc.
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