But if pro football has in some sense broadened Atlanta racially, it has also raised a troublesome quarterback question. It happens that there is a Dodd-type quarterback living and working in Atlanta in the off season: Fran Tarkenton, who starred at the University of Georgia. But even if the New York Giants could be persuaded to give Tarkenton up, Van Brocklin wouldn't be in the market for him. Van Brocklin had Tarkenton at Minnesota and didn't like him; he abhors scrambling, prefers classic drop-back passers such as he was himself in his illustrious playing days. In 1966, when the two were still coexisting at Minnesota, Van Brocklin astoundingly benched Tarkenton against the Falcons and put in Bob Berry, an alumnus of Van Brocklin's alma mater ( Oregon) and a cocky, orthodox quarterback in Van Brocklin's mold—only not nearly so good, as the Falcons would seem to have established by edging the Vikings that day 20-14. Tarkenton subsequently demanded to be traded, and Van Brocklin soon quit the Vikings himself.
Now the Dutchman is in charge of a team with two potential starting quarterbacks—Berry and Randy Johnson, who has been with the Falcons since their first game in 1966. Atlanta beat Philadelphia 13-7 behind Berry in its first exhibition game this summer, then won a laugher for the first time in its history, 34-16 over the Boston Patriots, with Johnson running the team. Against the Redskins, Johnson was intercepted twice and fumbled the ball away and Berry took over, throwing a touchdown pass to Jerry Simmons. It now looks like Berry will start and that Atlanta needs a better quarterback.
But unlike the Great Speckled Bird, the Falcons are—however slightly—aboveground and Establishment, if not established, and if they can win some, Atlantans will doubtless forget all about the innocent old days when Dodd set the tone.