from 1961-1978, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
in 1986. Was losing quarterback in 3 Super Bowl
s. Set many passing records, and also was one of the best running quarterbacks of all-time.
Tarkenton (DOB: 2/3/1940; Richmond, Virginia) went to college at the University of Georgia, and was selected 29th overall (in the 3rd round) by the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in the 1961 NFL Draft. He also was drafted by the Boston Patriots of the upstart AFL, but signed with the Vikings.
In a sign of things to come, in his professional debut, Tarkenton passed for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth score, leading the Vikings past the Chicago Bears. Tarkenton passed for 1997 yards and 18 touchdowns in that 1961 rookie season.
Tarkenton would remain a Viking through 1966. Tarkenton didn't get along with Minnesota head coach Norm Van Brocklin, who was a great dropback passer in his day and disliked Tarkenton's scrambling style. This led to Tarkenton being traded to the New York Giants for several draft picks.
His first season in New York (1967) was arguably the best of his career, passing for 3088 yards, and a career high 29 touchdowns.
Tarkenton remained a Giant through 1971, before being traded back to the Minnesota Vikings.
It was during his second stint in Minnesota that he led the Vikings to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. Unfortunately, they lost all 3 (Super Bowl VIII, Super Bowl IX, and Super Bowl XI; in January of 1974, 1975, and 1977 respectively).
Tarkenton played in the NFL for another two seasons. His final season, 1978, he threw for career highs in pass completions (345), pass attempts (572), and yards (3468), but also in interceptions (32). He also threw for 25 touchdowns.
Tarkenton retired as the NFL's all-time leading passer (47,003 yards; has since been passed numerous times). At the time of his retirement, he also held the career record for touchdowns thrown (342; through 2000, 2nd all-time, behind only Dan Marino), pass completions (3686) and pass attempts (6467). On the negative side, Tarkenton's 266 interceptions is third all-time (through the year 2000).
His 3674 career rushing yards was an NFL record for quarterbacks (since broken by only Randall Cunningham and Steve Young, through the 2000 season).
Following his football career, Tarkenton was the co-host (along with John Davidson and Cathy Lee Crosby) of the ABC series "That's Incredible!", which featured people performing amazing feats. The show was on the air from 1980-1984.
In 1986, Tarkenton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The following year, he was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Since then, Tarkenton's had great success as a spokesman, businessman and motivational speaker.
His legacy on the football field is as the first great mobile quarterback, paving the way for the current crop of quarterbacks, such as Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair.