Fran Tarkenton: Hall of Fame quarterback turned successful businessman.
Often times, we as sports-writers take the time to write about our favorite athletes. Rarely do we have the opportunity to directly interact with them.
That all changed for me less than week ago when I was granted one of the greatest opportunities of my sports-writing career.
A conversation with Fran Tarkenton.
Tarkenton is far from simply being a retired sports legend who happens to share his opinions about many things current; he is a man who watches football every Sunday with a keen sense for what is happening on the football field.
Since his retirement, he has been as successful in business as he was in football, and that’s saying something.
Fran had plenty to say in the wake of Championship Sunday, and it was a true pleasure on my behalf to have been the one fortunate enough to get his thoughts on the subject.
Ryan: How are you doing today, Fran?
Fran: "I’m fine, Ryan; how are you?"
Ryan: I’m doing excellent. Are you ready for the first question?
Ryan: I don’t mean to start on a negative note but I made these questions up before yesterday’s game so, what are your thoughts regarding last night’s NFC Championship?
Fran: "I thought it was a phenomenal game. I thought it was a great game.
"I thought that both of yesterday’s games were great and I think that they will be the best ratings that the networks have had on Championship Sunday.
"Championship Sunday is really more fun for me as a viewer than Super Bowl Sunday because the teams that lose are gone and don’t play on. There’s tremendous stress on all four teams. They played magnificently. You got two winners and two losers.
"The Vikings played a sensational game, except they were sloppy with the ball.
"They turned it over five times and even with turning it over five times, they had a chance at the end to win the game and took it into overtime. I thought they out-played New Orleans all day long with the exception of the turnovers, which of course are always pivotal.
"The Indianapolis game, I thought Peyton just showed his greatness once again.
"It started off with two sacks, which is unlike Indianapolis. He figured out how to pick up those blitzes and then played a spotless game. But as spotless as he was in the positive performance, he was also spotless when the blitzes came. He did not make a bad play out of the blitzes. He did not cost his team anything and I think that was critical.
"In Brett Favre’s case, of course, I thought he played great. He took unbelievable hits but unfortunately, the three turnovers he was involved in were critical."
Ryan: My next question for you Fran is in the spirit of Super Bowl XLIV. I’d like to talk to you about a player you just mentioned from the AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts squad.
Earlier in the season, you gave a lot of praise to Peyton Manning when he surpassed your touchdown mark. What are your thoughts regarding his season this year, and what do you think about as his overall legacy?
Fran: "I think that it is very simple.
"I think that he had his greatest year this year.
"He has a new coach, a new defensive philosophy, he lost two of his top receivers before the season started, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez. He takes two unknowns, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, and they were the main go-to guys of yesterday’s championship game. That is an amazing thing that he’s done.
"I think that his legacy? He will go down when you talk about the greatest quarterbacks ever to play, and that’s an impossible judgment, he certainly will be in that category as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play."
Ryan: Now since we’re talking about great quarterbacks, I think it would be a bit of an understatement to say that you belong in the same discussion.
With that being said, what is one thing that you’d like for people to know about your career that you feel perhaps might not receive the proper recognition?
Fran: "Well, at my age Ryan, nothing.
"I played in expansion teams. I went to New York, and they traded three No. 1 draft choices and two No. 2's to get me to play on a team that the year before had won one game, lost 12 and tied another one with a terrific quarterback, Earl Morrall playing for them.
"I went to New York and took that team and we went 7-7 the first year I was there. Then we were 9-5 and I respect those seasons as much as any that I’ve ever played.
"I came back to Minnesota, and we went to three out of four Super Bowls and won three out of four NFC championship games; won all three that we were in. So we were a dominant team then.
"You know, quarterbacks, I think greatness in quarterbacks is taking what you’ve got, whether it’s a great team, a good team, or a struggling team and make them better.
"I’d like to think that I made all of my teams better and some of them didn’t have the ability to be big winning teams.
"But I think that’s your job, even in those situations certainly just as much as it is for a team that is capable of going to the Super Bowl."
Ryan: For the readers who might not know, you’ve made a very successful transition from professional football into business.
What is it that inspired you to pursue that direction and is there anything specific that you would directly credit to your success?
Fran: "Well, the same passions and interests that I had in football are in business.
"I’m an entrepreneur.
"Entrepreneurs are the people that built this country. We’re the ones that put our fingers in the soil and produce products and services that have value. We hire people and we sell our products all over the world. That’s what fuels this great country of ours; always has.
"I’ve dedicated my last 14 years to helping those entrepreneurs.
"We’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs to give them the information, the way to think about business to give them the best chance to succeed.
"We have recently taken advantage of the advances in technology and software development to be able to bring to entrepreneurs with one to 25 employees, the latest in technology that will help them organize their marketing, get more sales and run their businesses more efficiently.
"We can do that electronically now. If you’re readers would go to our website (www.MasterSuiteApps.com), they could go in and take a look at these software tools.
"They can get them free for 30 days; no cost, no risk. They can take them and download them to use and they can see the value of these tools.
"If they like them, there’s a subscription fee that is ongoing that isn’t very expensive. There are no updates or upgrades that they’ll have to worry about paying for and no maintenance costs.
"We’ve made it very affordable for small-business people who really want to take a look at how to advance their skill-sets to be able to have a better chance to make it."
Ryan: My final question Fran, just to put you on the spot, I’d like to get your pick for Super Bowl XLIV?
Fran: "I think Indianapolis will be the clear favorite.
"I think they are the better team, but the better team doesn’t always win, as we know.
"Two great quarterbacks playing.
"I think Indianapolis has a great advantage on defense over a New Orleans team that is 25th rated in the league on defense; but they overcome that by creating a lot of turnovers.
"The way for New Orleans to win the Super Bowl is the same way they’ve won all year. They have to create turnovers.
"The two offenses are great offenses; both explosive, both have great quarterbacks, great receivers, running-backs, but on the defensive side, the edge goes to Indianapolis."
With as quickly as it began, our conversation came to a close.
I would like to personally thank Fran for taking the time to do this interview.
It was a fantastic experience on my behalf as I could not honestly express how appreciative I am to have had the opportunity to work with a man whom I admire so much.
Best wishes, Fran.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael