Foot­ball without fear

The Covington News - - Education - Clif­ford Brew­tonColum­nist

I played my first game as a guard on the Sa­van­nah High B Team; we played Je­sup, and in, 1948, they had one of the best teams in Ge­or­gia. When the go­ing got tough on the field, the coach told me to go, and I went. I saw line­men and I trem­bled; they were giants.

I was knocked and slammed back and forth for sev­eral plays, but I learned not to let fear rule me.

Later, as a spec­ta­tor, I saw this in Fran Tarken­ton, son of a Methodist min­is­ter from Ox­ford who played at the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia be­fore be­com­ing a quar­ter­back leg­end with the Min­nesota Vik­ings.

Tarken­ton was third­string when they faced the Uni­ver­sity of Texas. Ge­or­gia was be­ing mauled; they could not get a sin­gle down, and it was the third quar­ter, third down, when Ge­or­gia was pinned near their 20-yard line.

Tarken­ton stood it as long as he could, and jump­ing from the bench with burn­ing im­pa­tience, he ran fear­lessly onto the field to­ward the hud­dle. The first-string quar­ter­back thought the coach had sent a re­place­ment and ran to the side­lines.

Be­fore the coach knew what had hap­pened, Tarken­ton had moved the team down field for a touch­down.

This was the beginning of one of the most daz­zling ca­reers in foot­ball his­tory.

Tarken­ton’s Na­tional Foot­ball League ca­reer record for pass com­ple­tions came when Min­nesota won over the San Diego Charg­ers. Tarken­ton passed for his 2,831st in the 28-13 victory, Sun­day, Novem­ber 23, 1975.

This was Tarken­ton’s 15th year in pro­fes­sional foot­ball. When the game was over, he had com­pleted 24 passes for a to­tal of 201 yards.

In 1976, while the Vik­ings were play­ing the New York Giants, Tarken­ton passed his 92nd yard of the game, set a record of 40,241, and at that mo­ment, be­came the lead­ing passer of all time in pro foot­ball.

This star­tling event pushed John Uni­tas to the num­ber two po­si­tion as a passer. Looking back to when Tarken­ton first be­gan to play foot­ball, coaches thought his arm was not strong enough for him to be a quar­ter­back. But he didn’t let their opin­ions stand in his way.

Tarken­ton was of­ten crit­i­cized be­cause he played his own way, and did so with reck­less aban­don.

Noth­ing could stop Tarken­ton from be­ing the player he wanted to be, and his­tory proved he was right. When his ca­reer ended he had thrown more touch­down passes, com­pleted more passes, and ran for more yardage, than any quar­ter­back in the his­tory of pro­fes­sional foot­ball.

His all-time world records in­clude most passes at­tempted in a sea­son — 572, with 345 com­ple­tions; most passes at­tempted in a life­time — 6,467, with 3,686 com­pleted.

Af­ter a se­ri­ous in­jury in 1977, Tarken­ton re­tired and turned his re­lent­less en­ergy to higher as­pi­ra­tions.

He knew the “never-never land” of foot­ball he­roes didn’t last al­ways, so he de­cided to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur.

The ex-foot­ball star said that money is not his driv­ing am­bi­tion, al­though he is said to have built a per­sonal for­tune of over $70 mil­lion.

Gary Bur­ley, of the Cincin­nati Ben­gals, the player who tack­led Tarken­ton in the play that in­jured him and took him out, said, “To me, Tarken­ton is the great­est quar­ter­back in the his­tory of foot­ball.”

Who says foot­ball he­roes don’t last? I know he’s mine — the man who has a strong hold on re­al­ity and is not afraid to face a chal­lenge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.