Long before Fran Tarkenton was shilling for the Green Bay Packers he was America's number one pitchman. If you had a product or venture to sell, Fran was your man!
Back in the 1980s you couldn't turn on the TV without seeing one of Tark's infomercials. He may not have sold Veg-O-Matics but he seemed to sell everything else. This was after his short-lived tryout on Monday Night Football and then co-hosting gig on That's Incredible!
The son of a preacher man, Tarkenton could always work his mouth real good. But I never heard him speak in so mean-spirited a manner as he did last week when talking of Brett Favre, who's "retirements" should never have created feelings of hate in anyone.
It's a strange case. I'm not sure if he was showing unsolicited support to a friend he has in Packer management or sadly was exhibiting an early sign of dementia.
Fran was known as The Scrambler in his playing days with the Giants and Vikings. As a boy I marveled at not only his innovative ability to evade and frustrate would-be tacklers like Deacon Jones and Bob Lilly, but also at his never-flinching confidence and leadership.
It's ironic that the man Tarkenton so thoroughly (and unfairly) trashed, was in many ways a latter-day version of Tarkenton's own thrilling style of play. Just as Packer fans would feel victory was always possible with Favre at the helm, we Viking fans felt the same way with The Scrambler under center. That center, incidentally, was Mick Tingelhoff, who along with defensive teammate Jim Marshall should have both been enshrined in Canton long, long ago.
Hopefully Tarkenton can out-run his demons like he used to out-run opponents. An apology or "clarification" might set him on his way to such salvation.