Francis Asbury “Fran” Tarkenton (February 3, 1940-) (QB) led his high school team to the Georgia State Championship, led the University of Georgia Bulldogs to the Southeastern Conference Championships and led the Minnesota Viking to three Super Bowls. The Minnesota Vikings took Fran in the third round of the 1961 NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia. The Boston Patriots also picked him in the 1961 AFL Draft though chose to play in Minnesota. In his first NFL game, Tarkenton threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns becoming the only player in NFL history to throw four TD passes in his first career game. Fran had the rare quality of evading defensive ends and tackles as he scrambled in the backfield and outside the pocket, but maintaining his vision of receivers downfield. “The Mad Scrambler”, “Frantic Fran” and “Scramblin’ Fran” were only three of the names Tarkenton was saddled with, all of which infuriated head coach Norn Van Brocklin. After six years with Minnesota, Fran was traded to the New York Giants where he averaged 2,781 yards and 21 touchdowns per season from 1967-1971.
Tarkenton returned to the Vikings in 1972 and led them to the 1973, 1974 and 1976 NFC Championships and the corresponding Super Bowls (VIII, IX, and XI), all losing efforts. Amidst his three Super Bowl runs in four years from 1973-1976, Fran Tarkenton led the NFL in 1975 in pass attempts, completions, completion percentage and passing touchdowns earning the AP, PFWA and NEA NFL Most Valuable Player Award. Fran was also named the 1975 Bert Bell Award winner as Player of the Year and the NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year. He was a two-time NFL All-Pro first Team selection and appeared in nine NFL Pro Bowls. Fran Tarkenton finished his career as the NFL leader in passing yards (47,003), pass completions (3,686) and touchdowns (342), but also added another 3,674 rushing yards for a grand total of 50, 677 total yards. He also scored 32 career-rushing touchdowns for 192 career points during his 13 years in Minnesota (1961-1966, 1972-1978) and five in New York (1967-1971). He had a 80.4 quarterback passer rating, throwing 342 touchdowns over 266 interceptions in 246 career games. Fran Tarkenton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Following his playing days, he spent time in the broadcast booth and in front of the cameras of Hollywood on “That’s Incredible” as he shared hosting duties with John Davidson and Kathy Lee Crosby.