The Minnesota Vikings drafted Fran Tarkenton in the third round of the 1961 NFL Draft at the age of twenty-one. He played his first NFL game (and the Vikings first game) against the Chicago Bears. He led the Vikings to a victory by passing for 250 yards and completing four touchdown passes as the upstarts stunned the Bears 37–13. He is the only player in NFL history to pass for four touchdowns in his first NFL game.
On December 19th, the Minnesota Vikings will celebrate their 50th anniversary. Tarkenton will join the 49 living members of the 50 greatest Viking players, as voted by the fans, to reunite, reminisce, and celebrate the prestigious milestone with the men who helped build and the fans who support the Viking Nation. However, Fran’s decision to attend the event took some persuading.
Tarkenton came to Minnesota after playing quarterback for the University of Georgia. In a recent interview describing his time with the Vikings, Tarkenton stated that prior to joining the team, he “had no idea where Minnesota was.” The team’s heroic win against the Bears sealed their place in football history. Looking back, Tarkenton describes his fellow teammates as “a great group of characters.” Yet despite his fondness for his teammates, Tarkenton spoke most highly of his former coach Bud Grant. “I learned more from him than from anyone else in the world.” (more…)