Football Hall of Fame quarterback Francis Asbury Tarkenton (1940-) was born on this day in Richmond, Virginia and raised in Athens, Georgia, the son of a minister. Young Fran led the University of Georgia to victory in the 1960 Orange Bowl.
"Winning," he said, "means being unafraid to lose."
In 1961, he was drafted in the third round by the then-expansion team Minnesota Vikings. In his first game, he threw four touchdown passes for a win that upset the Chicago Bears.
In his amazing 18-year career with the Minnesota Vikings (1961–66, 1972–78) and New York Giants (1967–71), he went on to throw for more yards (50,677), completions (3,686), and touchdown passes (342) than any other player in NFL history. (The records stood for 17 years before Dan Marino broke them in 1995.)
"Success, in my view, is the willingness to strive for something you really want," he explained. "The person not reaching the top is no less a success than the one who achieved it, if they both sweated blood, sweat, and tears and overcame obstacles and fears."
Tarkenton was a joy to watch play. Known for his exciting scrambling ability (he rushed for 3,674 yards) and precision passing arm, Tarkenton led the Vikings to the Super Bowl three times (1973, 1974, and 1976). He was called "the greatest quarterback ever to play the game" by his coach Bud Grant.
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1986, since his retirement from football Tarkenton has become a successful television commentator, writer, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He said, "If football taught me anything about business, it is that you win the game one play at a time"
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