VIKINGS: Fran Tarkenton on QB situation: 'I want to see us go younger quicker'
ST. PAUL Here's my one-sided conversation Tuesday with hall of famer and former Vikings star quarterback Fran Tarkenton: "How you doing, Bob?" "Better than your old team." "I'm not surprised at all," Tarkenton said. And then off he went riffing o...
Here's my one-sided conversation Tuesday with hall of famer and former Vikings star quarterback Fran Tarkenton:
"How you doing, Bob?"
"Better than your old team."
"I'm not surprised at all," Tarkenton said.
And then off he went riffing on the winless Vikings and what they should do to better themselves.
"First of all, Donovan McNabb is one of my favorite pro players. I think he has been a very great professional quarterback. He says the right things. He does the right things. Right now, I want to see us go younger quicker.
"I told people back before the Vikings made the move, 'If you think Donovan McNabb is the answer, he's not.' You're going with another old quarterback.
"What we have done in Minnesota is delay getting that young quarterback. In Green Bay, they got rid of Brett Favre and went with Aaron Rodgers. They didn't just win a Super Bowl. They're set for the next 10 years.
"We need to play Christian Ponder. I haven't watched Christian Ponder play. But you never know until you play him. I would have played him from Day One. You have to play him to see if you have him for your future."
Like the Energizer Bunny, Tarkenton kept going and going ...
"Carolina drafted Jimmy Clausen to see if he can play. They found out last year Jimmy Clausen couldn't play. What did they do? They had the worst record in the league and went for Cam Newton.
"Oakland drafted JaMarcus Russell with the first overall pick (in 2007). JaMarcus Russell was a
bum. Nobody knew Vince Young wasn't going to make it. Even if it's Cam Newton, you don't know until you play him.
"The Panthers played him, and now look at their team play. This team has been a god-awful team for years, and it was because they stayed with Jake Delhomme, who couldn't play a lick. Then they put Clausen in and looked like (crud). Now they play Cam Newton and they have a hope. They're competitive every week.
"Players know. Who's going to be our future? Who can we build with?
Maybe it's Christian Ponder. We won't know until he plays in games how he reacts. We desperately need that for the immediate future of our franchise.
"Right now, the Minnesota Vikings are not going to be in the playoffs. Going into the season, we were ranked fourth in my rankings. Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit are better. I picked Detroit to be the surprise team before they were the surprise team. The only thing they needed was for Matt Stafford to be healthy. He proved he could play if he's healthy.
"Matthew Stafford can throw the ball as good as anybody in football. Aaron Rodgers is there, too. Both are talented guys. Both can use their feet. They're not jerks. They're solid guys. I love both of them.
"I would hope the Vikings get Christian Ponder in. This is not a knock on Donovan McNabb. He would understand. We need to find out for the immediate future of the team.
"Ponder was in the mix with five or six guys. We did the right thing drafting him in the first round. Let's see if he can play. You have to see if they can make plays."
Like the old days when he wore No. 10, Tarkenton kept firing ...
"Tom Brady was a sixth-round draft choice because they didn't think he could play. I was a third-round choice because they didn't think I could play. Joe Montana was a third-round pick because they didn't think he could play. You don't know if they could play at this level until they play.
"They found out in the exhibition season I could play. They didn't start me that first day (of the franchise's first-ever regular season game in 1961). They had George Shaw. But they put me in the first game and found out I could play. You don't know until you get in that environment and go.
"You have to give yourself a chance. I hope Christian Ponder can play. I guarantee you they won't know until he plays.
"It's a crapshoot. But you've got to get into the crapshoot.
"If Donovan plays, we'll win a game here and a game there. But what are we going to do? Donovan isn't the future of the franchise. We're just plugging him in there. That's a Hail Mary pass. You don't win with a Hail Mary. You win with planning, and if you don't have a plan for quarterback succession, you're in trouble."
Finally, that riff was done. Then he started another one, a shorter one, when I asked him what he recalled from the 1962 season, when he and the Vikings opened with five straight losses on their way to a 2-11-1 record.
"Here's the deal," he said. "We come out and have a really good first year. Win three games. The second year, we'd given up our No. 1 choice for George Shaw. We didn't make any trades. We didn't improve our roster. Only won two games. You can't ever stand still. You have to improve your roster."
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