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October 18, 2009

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EXCERPT | Nov. 10,1975

Fran the Man

The Vikings had agreat, grizzled QB in the 1970s too

Minnesota was7--0, and 35-year-old Fran Tarkenton was en route to his only MVP award whenDan Jenkins filed this story.

He throwsfootballs at a mattress in his attic, he eats chili before a game, he says whathe thinks, and a lot of people do not like the fact that he sometimes runs intoremote corners of neighboring states before he connects on another touchdownpass for the Minnesota Vikings. But Fran Tarkenton is, and Fran Tarkenton does,and whether any of the old-timers are going to be able to stomach it or not,Fran Tarkenton is on the verge of proving that he might be the greatest proquarterback who ever drew back an arm.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.Baugh. Graham. Unitas. All that stuff. But Fran Tarkenton looks better now inhis 15th season than ever before. His Vikings are the only undefeated team inthe NFL, and he is getting ready to break every meaningful record available toa passer. And he still hasn't come close to being seriously injured, despitethose journeys into the unknown. Also, he hasn't always benefited frombrilliant receivers, and he calls his own plays, and he can see the whole fieldbetter than anyone, and he has an amazing touch, and he can throw long andshort and medium, and he's a leader, and he doesn't panic, and he can makethings happen. The fact is, whether you like a scrambler or not, and whether ornot you like a guy who throws a lot to his backs, and whether you don't accepta guy who has "never won the big one," Fran Tarkenton is going to ownall these passing records, and the critics can just shut up.

With his 343rdcareer touchdown pass on Sunday night, the Colts' Peyton Manning passedTarkenton for third place on the alltime list.

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PHOTOPhotograph by NEIL LEIFERPASSING FIGURE When Tarkenton retired in 1978, his 47,003 yards were the NFL standard. Now that total ranks sixth. PHOTONEIL LEIFER (CARLISLE) PHOTOLANE STEWART (WESTPHAL) PHOTORICHARD MACKSON (GRIFFEY JR.) PHOTOERICK W. RASCO (RODRIGUEZ) PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH (WHITE) PHOTORICH GABRIELSON/ICON SMI (MARSHALL) PHOTOMICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1 DEUCE 3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PALMER) PHOTOMARK MAINZ/GETTY IMAGES FOR T-MOBILE (DEEGAN) PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIER (GIBSON)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)