Fran Tarkenton: The Most Underrated QB Of ALL Time

A BCorrespondent INovember 25, 2008

Recently, everyone has been talking about Brett Favre, and whether he is the most overrated QB of all time.

Have we ever thought of whom is the most underrated QB of all time?

The answer is Fran Tarkenton.

Before Marino broke his records, and Favre broke Marino's and way before Peyton breaks Favre's, there was one quarterback who held all the records.

His name is Fran Tarkenton.

In his 18 NFL seasons, Tarkenton completed 3,686 of 6,467 passes for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns. He set all these records. Has he been passed up? He certainly has.

But there are some things to compare.

Of other quarterbacks who played during this epoch, the erratic John Hadl is the closest. In this time period, quarterbacks were not supposed to throw this many touchdowns or for this much yardage.

Like the typical quarterback of this time, Hadl was aggressive and inaccurate. He threw many passes, and still only mustered up only 244 touchdowns and 33,503 yards.

Tarkenton also retired as the all-time wins leader of the NFL. A record broken now, but he was the Maradona of football. Drafted by an expansion team, he dragged the Vikings to victories. Literally.

He was able to drag them to three Super Bowls.

He played in nine Pro Bowls.

I could name you many more reasons why he is a legend. But for his legacy, it is not all numbers. No.

"Scramblin' Fran" changed the way the quarterback position is played. He invented the scrambling quarterback. When Randall Cunningham and Steve Young were young, Fran was beginning his controversial revolution.

Nobody did this, nobody had heard of this, it was a travesty to even attempt this.

Tarkenton played for the Vikings from 1961 to 1966 (he was traded to the Giants, and eventually came back to Minnesota) during which time he frequently went head-to-head with head coach Norm Van Brocklin, who disdained the idea of a mobile quarterback.

He also used his impressive scrambling ability to rack up 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries. During his career, Tarkenton ran for a touchdown in 15 different seasons, a NFL record among quarterbacks.

Am I saying he is the greatest of all time?


I am saying that he is forgotten.

We value Johnny Unitas for his revolution of the position, so why are we forgetting about Fran?

Did he win a title?

No, but he was drafted by an expansion team. He remained successful. Yes he did stay there for a while, but it takes a long time for an expansion team actually to succeed. And he did.

Times have changed. When pass rushers get quicker, stronger and crazier, quarterback mobility is a must. Now scrambling is accepted in the NFL, quarterbacks can lose their jobs for mobility reasons.

The next time you watch Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell or whoever scramble, think Fran Tarkenton.

And thank him.