VU: I wanted to get your reaction to Fran Tarkenton's comments on Brett Favre. Let's start with him basically saying he thinks Favre was being selfish by trying to come back and play against the Green Bay Packers.
BL: Francis Asbury Tarkenton would answer that way because their personalities are total opposites. They are both great football players. Fran Tarkenton was an outstanding football player, but Fran was always looking down the road. He was looking to what he was going to do after football. Having played 10 years with him, I saw the people that he met, who he went with and I could just see him preparing for the future. Where Brett Favre, he's pretty well set. The money was a lot different in the Tarkenton years than it is now. You have an adult in Tarkenton and then a kid in Favre with the love and energy for football. I got the kids aspect of Favre from Todd Bouman, who played with Favre in Green Bay. I'm a big Brett Favre fan. I love his attitude. He plays hurt. He represents everything good about the National Football League. I asked Bouman when he was playing with the Packers, ‘Is Brett Favre everything I think he is?' He said, ‘He's even more, Lurtz. Come Thursday, he's like a little kid in a candy store. He can't wait for the game to start. He just loves it.' At the end of my career – and I'm not trying to compare a Hall of Famer to the Old Benchwarmer – but after I retired at age 36, I was out a year and I wanted to come back. I called the Seattle Seahawks and talked to coach Jack Patera. I missed the game that much. I found reality in the real world. If you've still got the love and the heart, it's still a kid's game and you don't have to grow up that quick. I didn't want to grow up. I didn't like it when I hit the real world. Even when I worked at Dow Chemical in the offseason when I was with the New York Giants, I couldn't wait for football to start because everybody is positive in football. A lot of times in the real world, it seems a lot of people will carry around negative attitudes. I've always said negative attitudes are contagious, but I'd rather be around a positive attitude.
VU: Tarkenton also said he hopes Favre comes back and fails with the Vikings, and I've heard other athletes say that's against the ‘code' of the professional athlete – you never cheer for failure of another guy.
BL: Fran has a book coming out and I'll be seeing Fran within the next six months. I will personally address him on that. That is a terrible, terrible thing to say to any football player, especially one that has given so much to the game itself. Tarkenton had a lot of VIP privileges when he was with the Giants and the Vikings, more than a lot of other players. That was understood. They are quarterbacks and they have no private life, especially in New York. I think that might have hit Favre between the eyes. He never had any privacy anyways, but in New York, oh my gosh, that town will eat you alive, especially if you're a celebrity. But that statement is absolutely intolerable as far as I'm concerned and I will have no problem telling my close, personal friend, Francis Asbury, what I think of that remark. Brutal.
VU: One of Tarkenton's points was that he thought Favre was over the hill and he didn't think the shoulder injury would be something that Favre could play with. Do you think Favre's struggles in his last five games last year were pretty much all the result of the shoulder injury or do you think he is starting to get to the point where his overall skills are just diminishing?
BL: You don't lose your skills in a week. When he was 8-3, they were calling him MVP. You don't lose your skills overnight. Now, was there some fatigue? I know a lot of years you change your week of preparation because you take longer to recover. That's just normal for anybody. But did the long season catch up to him? Did they give him too much in the preseason or during training camp? Did they overwork him that way? But those negatives could turn into a positive in Minnesota because you don't have to press yourself as a quarterback here, not with Adrian Peterson. Things are so much different. You're not going to have throw 30 times, and you're not going to have everything on your shoulder because then you'd have a Hall of Fame quarterback with the best running back as of today in the National Football League.
VU: Some fans look at the situation and think the Vikings are a 10- or 11-win team without Favre and wonder if signing him would really improve the team that much. I think they're looking at the overall talent on the team and wondering how much Favre would really improve the team in the win column.
BL: How many 10-win teams have won the Super Bowl? You want that 12 or 13 wins, and those two wins are huge. The window of opportunity is not a lot in the National Football League. Every team seems to come along and get a two- or three-year window of opportunity. With the Vikings defense, their window of opportunity is now. When he comes in here, that would guarantee one more win minimum because he is the missing piece to the puzzle. He's going to make the receivers better – if you're a fourth receiver, get ready, you could be drilled right between the eyes quick on his progression. If you're going to throw a nine-man box to stop Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, your defense is dead.
Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.
Lurtsema's Reaction: Those Tarkenton comments
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