November 14, 2009
Former New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton has once again spoken up on the new generation. The 69-year-old Hall-of-Famer, who at one point held just about every major career passing record and played in three Super Bowls, has a successful life after football as a sometime TV personality and full-time entrepreneur. But that doesn't keep him from opining on the current group of signal-callers who draw his ire for various reasons.
First, there were his May, 2009 comments on 790 the Zone in Atlanta about serial retiree Brett Favre(notes). When asked about Favre's continued dalliances with the NFL, Tarkenton was more than succinct.
"I think it's despicable. What he put the Packers through last year was not good. Here's an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn't about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favres of the world so much, they think it's about them ... I kind of hope (Favre's unretirement) happens, so he can fail."
Well, bah, humbug! Of course, Favre put us all through a few months of media torture in his current comeback to the Vikings, but he's certainly isn't failing. As he acclimates to Minnesota's offense, he's lighting it up at an age when most quarterbacks only wish they could. Having swung and missed on Favre, Tarkenton has now taken aim at another NFC Norris quarterback -- one Jay Cutler(notes), fresh from his five-pick disaster against the 49ers last Thursday. Back on the radio went Fran, and back went the mouth into overdrive, on Chicago's "Waddle and Silvy Show" (no, really):
"I really question whether he can play. Quarterbacks need to make their team better. If it's a bad team, they can even make a bad team better. Somebody may say well, even Peyton Manning(notes) couldn't help the Bears. Yes, he could. Tom Brady(notes) could, too. They might not win the championship or get to the playoffs, but they would make that team better. Those wide receivers who are struggling would be better because they would make them better."
Tarkenton then went on to say that the best way for Cutler to prove him wrong was to march into offensive coordinator Ron Turner's office and "tell that coach [expletive]." Tarkenton related a story in which he told the young Dan Fouts to tell his offensive coordinator to kiss off. Of course, one of the guys responsible for Fouts' development was Bill Walsh, San Diego's offensive coordinator in 1976, and I sincerely question the professional future of any quarterback dumb enough to pop off to Walsh.
If he can take it as he dishes it out, I think the best advice for Tarkenton could be taken from that noted military philosopher, Sgt. Hulka: "Lighten up, Francis." The pressure on these guys is bad enough, even when it's self-imposed, without former greats copping headlines with their "Grumpy Old Men" routines at the worst possible time. Telling guys like Favre and Cutler to "get off my lawn!" just stings Tarkenton's own legacy, and that's a shame.
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