- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The longer you're around and the better you play, the more you must manipulate yourself. Tarkenton pointed out to me that once you achieve a certain level, everybody expects you to do that well all the time, so you almost never get any PR—Positive Reinforcement—from others. You should have been more open. That's probably why stars seem to have more paranoia than average players.
I'm no different than anybody else. I need people to say "nice catch" to me, too—even 472 catches later. Diane didn't even realize that. She thought it was enough for me that if I did something good it was reported in the newspaper. But at least I could tell her I needed attention. Most people you can't, and so if you're good, after a while you must learn how to please yourself, how to excite yourself.
Thought for today: Are you kidding? Camp is all but over!
FRIDAY, AUG. 27: Reading Defenses
Two of my favorite people are here in Denver: Jerry Frei, my coach at Oregon, is the Broncos' offensive line coach. And my brother Dennis brought his family in from Los Angeles to watch me play. His son, Michael, is a good little athlete and Dennis is a Little League father—they were out throwing a ball around in the park—but Michael's got the right priorities, too: studies before athletics.
Thought for today: I'm quite sure I can read defenses as well as any quarterback. The most difficult thing for a young wide receiver to understand is that when you're wide open over the middle you're really being sucked into double coverage and the likelihood of an interception.
SATURDAY, AUG. 28: Status
I've got to keep especially alert when I'm in the game tonight because Bud is planning to use Wade Wilson a lot. Wade is the third-string quarterback and—this is no reflection on him, it's just a matter of human nature—I've found through the years that if a fairly inexperienced, insecure quarterback comes into the game, he's going to throw to names more than to open receivers. What I mean is, a reserve comes in, he's automatically thinking, where's Rashad, or where's White, because those guys have caught the most balls, so I'm going to them. I may have three guys hanging on me and still see the ball coming my way a lot tonight.
Don't kid yourself. Status plays a big part in this game. Nobody ever used his presence better than Tarkenton did. There were any number of times when I saw him exchange a few innocent words with a guy on the other team and, all of a sudden, Fran had a friend over there instead of a tormentor.
I especially remember one game against the Lions when Detroit was rushing Fran to death. Then there was a measurement, and while the officials were dragging the chains out and going through all that, old Fran sidles up to Dave Pureifory, the Lions' defensive end, and he says, "Hey, Dave, how's it going? Tough out here today, huh?"—you know, just some chitchat like that, like they were a couple guys hanging around a mall. Pureifory puffs up and gets a big smile on his face; you can just see him signaling the other Lions: Sure, I know the great Fran Tarkenton, we're regular bosom buddies. And the other guys are thinking: Hey, this Tarkenton must be a pretty good guy, a big star like him stopping to talk to us. And I swear, prank, you could see the kill go right out of their eyes. Pureifory became a regular pussycat after that, and Fran started picking Detroit bare. Tarkenton was the smartest player I ever saw. He stayed in the league an extra three or four years strictly by using his head.