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Fran Tarkenton thinks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman ‘just plays God-awful’

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Former NFL great Fran Tarkenton is a popular radio guest and interview subject for one primary reason: He rarely pulls punches.

Just ask him about NFL labor spats, the "new breed" of quarterbacks, Phil Mickelson's taxes and — drumroll, please — Brett Favre. He'll fill an eight-minute segment with something juicy to be sure.

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Now Tarkenton has another quarterback he's taking aim at: Josh Freeman.

Talking to Tom Jones and Rick Stroud on WDAE Radio in Tampa, Tarkenton hemmed a bit before shredding the Buccaneers' incumbent starter. Basically, he thinks Freeman stinks. Most of the time, anyway.

"He plays sometimes at a nice level," Tarkenton said. "I've watched him a lot. He just plays God-awful. That's who you are. It's just a player being able to play or not play. Josh Freeman has proven to me that he can't play."

Tarkenton, 69, has some credentials, of course. He's a Hall of Fame quarterback who made nine Pro Bowls and won an MVP award. Freeman hasn't done any of those things in four uneven seasons with the Bucs. But Tarkenton's opinion on players take a hit when you consider his needless and persistent bashing of Favre through his first season in Minnesota, when he was leading the team to the doorstep of a Super Bowl.

Could Tarkenton be right? Of course. Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano has been giving third-rounder Mike Glennon a healthy crack at playing time in the preseason, and save for a regrettable pick-six against the Patriots, he has shown some real ability.

“They’ve had him there for four years and they have question marks about you?’’ Tarkenton asked rhetorically on WDAE. “You didn’t have question marks about Matt Ryan after this fourth year, or Joe Flacco. That means they don’t think he can play.

“He’s not going to get magical and all of the sudden in the fifth year be Aaron Rodgers. They want (Glennon) to be able to play. The only thing that will keep him from playing is if he’s not able to learn the system and make plays.’’

All signs point to Freeman being the starter when the Bucs head to New York on Sept. 8 to face the Jets, a team that's all too well-versed in quarterback controversies. But it will be interesting to see if Glennon is considered at some point if Tarkenton's assessment is accurate.

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