Your touching communiqué to your friends and teammates is heartwarming. I like it that sentimentality has smitten you as you turn 70. You have a lot of close friends who care about you because you care about them. Gratefully, I feel that I am in that group.
None of us is without flaws or shortcomings, failures or setbacks, but each of us should have some redeeming feature in our lives. With you, it is your consummate underscoring of an upbeat tempo. Nobody I know has ever accentuated the positive more than you. You have been on “uppers” all your life. What a joy to see that in a friend and know it is natural. That is why I am always trying to find my way to Atlanta to see you. You’re busy, but you always make time for your friends. For that, I am truly grateful.
You are a gifted conversationalist. I’ve known nobody with a greater gift of conversation than you – unless it is Lee Trevino. Whenever I get to see him when I am in Dallas, I come away with the greatest feelings. Like you, when he talks – about anything – he has something to say. With a lot of people, conversation is meaningless. No substance. Like that good looking girl Jerry Burns talked about.
Another very important asset in your life is your loyalty to your friends. You also inspire loyalty from your friends which is why I drove my Volkswagen, in 1965, to Baltimore (to see Raymond Berry and then took the train to NY to the World’s Fair); then reclaimed the VW and drove across to Chicago and up to Bemidji to see you at the Viking training camp. You got me a room in the dorm at the college, you arranged for me to eat at the training table, and if we went out, you got the check. I wasn’t freeloading, but if you hadn’t done that, the trip would have had to have been aborted. (If the state trooper in Indiana had given me a ticket for speeding instead of a warning, that would have also cause me to abort.) While I was moving around the country, Myrna was studying at Northwestern for a few weeks. Leaving Minnesota, I picked her up in Evanston. We drove to St. Louis to see Charley Trippi who was coaching with the Cardinals at that time. Other than gas, and you know how many miles you can travel with a full tank in a VW, I bet we didn’t spend $250. We were rich from the experience, however.
When we got home, we were so grateful for our summer sojourn, all inspired by loyalty to a friend. This is why I have always had the greatest appreciation for our friendship.
Yesterday, Peyton Manning tied my record of touchdown passes of 342 touchdown passes in his career. I set that record a lot of years ago. It stayed for about 15 or 16 years and it was broken later by Dan Marino and then Brett Favre broke Marino’s record. Peyton Manning, one of my very favorites, tied it yesterday.
I wrote Peyton a note today, and I congratulated him on 342 touchdown passes and told him he’ll go on to set the record of touchdown passes and I believe Peyton Manning will go on to be known as the greatest quarterback that ever lived. And I think he deserves it. He has absolutely handled himself as good as a person can handle it. This year he’s off to his best start. He’s got a new coach. He’s got new receivers. It makes no difference because Peyton Manning is all about team. He’s just a consummate professional, handles himself great but he comes from great stock.
His dad, Archie Manning, I played against in pro football, and Archie also played at Ole Miss. Archie was certainly one of the greatest — if not the greatest — college quarterbacks that ever played. He was s big strapping tall guy 6′ 4″. He could throw it on the run. He could run. Different kind of quarterback than Peyton and Eli. He really had great great running ability as well as could throw the ball. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t play on a good team in pro football.
He played for the old New Orleans Saints. It kind of speaks to something that’s important for all quarterbacks. We cannot be great quarterbacks if we don’t have great teammates, great coaches and stable organizations. He just didn’t have that in New Orleans. And so he couldn’t set the records that his sons are setting but he was every bit as good. But he’s been a great father and a great role model and a great mentor to Peyton and to Eli and now in this family that’s just amazing.
You’ve got Eli who’s now, I think, coming to the top rung of pro quarterbacks. He is now matured. He is a great great player. And he compares with the great ones playing today and he’ll probably go after Peyton’s records too.
What an extraordinary family and the rock of it is their mother who has been the solid foundation for the boys and for Archie and she’s just a wonderful lady. As I told Peyton in the note I wrote to him that your mom, Olivia, has just been the rock.
A toast to the great Manning family: Boy, they just do it right. Great great production from the sons and the father in his day and they just are thorough professionals and they handle themselves well and they are great role models for everybody.
For all of you who come to the blog, I have just published an autobiography. It’s called Every Day is Game Day. It’s not just about the wins and losses of football, the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory. It’s about the people and the lesson I’ve learned in my entire life. It’s about the notion that life is about relationships. The secret to happiness in life is relationships that come from caring about your people. It’s on the football field caring about your teammates and in business caring about your customers and your partners.
It’s in all the bookstores. It’s on Amazon.com. I hope you go find it, read it. I think there’s something in it that will serve you well and be an inspiration to you. Thanks for coming to the blog.
[Note: An autographed copy of Fran's latest book can be ordered for $16 + shipping at TarkentonSports.com. Click here to go there now.]
The eagle has landed for Michael Vick. He’s just signed up with the Philadelphia Eagles, and I think that’s great. This young man deserves another chance. He’s a talented talented athlete. Like so many of us we have all made mistakes.
No professional athlete in the history of time has ever had to spend two years in prison to pay for their mistakes. He did. He served his time. He deserves the chance to come out. He doesn’t need to burn in purgatory for the rest of his life. He’s paid his debt to society. He made a mistake. He admitted the mistake and he served his time more so than than anyone else that’s ever lived in the sports world. I think he will do great. I am pulling for him. I want him to knock the cover off the ball.
He’s going to the right organization. He’s going to a stable team the Philadelphia Eagles. Their ownership is stable. Their coach Andy Reid is stable. He’s going with a quarterback that’s already there. Donovan McNabb, who’s the epitome of stability. A quality quality person who I’m sure they talked to about bringing Michael Vick in and said bring it on.
Michael Vick is going to be a great asset to the Eagles because I would think they’d put a package of plays for him in that spread wildcat offense that Miami did last year. It’s a very effective offense. Just think if you have Brian Westbrook and Michael Vick in the same backfield. A package of 15 plays or so every game. It’s going to make Donovan McNabb better. It’s going to add to that football team and make them an offensive challenge for all the defensive coordinators.
Now I know that people are going to criticize the PETA people and the animal rights people. I love animals. I’ve had German Shepherds all my life. Up until three weeks ago I had four dogs. I had three German Shepherds: one 13-year old, two 1-year olds and I have a little tea-cup long haired Chihuahua weighing 2.5 lbs. I love my dogs unconditionally. They talk about dogs love to their master being unconditional love. It’s right back to me. I lost my 13-year old Shepard, Turbo, about 4 weeks ago. It was devastating to me. I cried and grieved for a week. I still miss him. I have a passion and love for my animals.
I understand the mistakes that Michael Vick made but I also understand he deserves anther chance. He paid his debt to society. And Michael Vick, go for it buddy! Go and show the people your skills. Show the people the quality of person that you are. I really believe that this will be a transforming experience for you. And I hope that everybody, everybody pulls for you and supports you because you deserve it.
Fear is a good thing. When I played sports (18 years in the National Football League and I played baseball and basketball in high school and college), before every game the athletes would say, “I have butterflies in my stomach.” And what that really meant was that we had a little fear. We didn’t know what to expect and that little fear kind of got our senses more awake. When I had those butterflies I thought I was really ready to go and play because my senses were in place. So fear can be a good thing.
We live in a world of great turmoil. We are all scared. Where is our money safe? Is it safe in the banks? Is it safe in money markets? Is it safe with our brokerage? Where should I put it? People are really fearful and scared of the unknown. Is there another shoe going to drop? Do we know everything? Is all of this bad news going to beget more bad news? What happens is it makes us get back to our senses, doesn’t it? When gas prices started getting so high, we responded by driving less and consuming less oil and gas, and guess what? In the past few months, the gas prices have gone down 81 cents. There was a tremendous drop in price because we are now using less. We are going out to eat less, we are spending less. We are looking at our budgets and saying to ourselves, I cannot spend more money than I’ve got because I am fearful that I won’t have enough money. So it brings a disciple into us, does it not? A little fear is good.
I came back from another one of my great trips a few weeks ago and I like to share with you my trips and where we stay and where we eat and what we do. I’ve talked to you about St. Barths, I’ve talked to you about Pebble Beach. Well, I recently came back from Martha’s Vineyard, and I have to tell you – I had about the best four days there that I have ever had in my life. We were there in August, during the heat of the summer in the south. We go up there and the sky was blue, the high temperature was 75 degrees, and there was no humidity. In the morning I would go read the paper at 6:30 or 7:00 AM and it was 55 degrees. What a beautiful spot! Up in the Northeastern part of the country in the state of Massachusetts, where our early settlers came. I understand why they came to the Northeast – it’s beautiful up there! The water, the beaches, the sailing, the boating, and this wonderful little village of Martha’s Vineyard, this wonderful little island they have protected environmentally.
You have houses that were built in the 1800s, these clapboard houses, and they are all beautifully painted – they must repaint them every two hours! Everything is in place. Everything is kept up. There is great pride in keeping these things neat and clean, and in keeping the environment as it is in its natural state. It’s really a credit to the people who live there — the pioneers of the Northeastern part of the country — who have worked so hard to keep the island so beautiful. The Vineyard is also a great sailing venue. I think that is where Ted Turner sailed out of to win the America’s Cup in 1977. But it is not a pretentious place. The yacht club there where he sailed out of is just a normal little place.
I went to see Frankie Valli a few weeks ago in concert. It was a great setting – right here in the heart of Buckhead in Atlanta, smack in the middle of one of our nice residential sections of the city. We have an amphitheater called Chastain Amphitheater. Chastain has been here for many years, might seat 4,000 people or so — all outdoors, and very popular in the summertime. You can spread out your food on tables, drink a little wine, and listen to some good music in this beautiful setting. And I got to listen to my favorite artist of all time – Frankie Valli. It wasn’t Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – he had four young guys up there singing with him and a band behind him with about 13 people, and it was the greatest concert I have ever been to in my life. Frankie Valli is 74 years old, and he sounds great!
On Wednesday, June 18th Tim Russert was laid to rest. A lot of significant things happened at his memorial service. A lot of great words were spoken, people expressing their feelings, telling stories, and having a really grand Irish funeral. But the most impressive part of the funeral to me was Tim’s 22 year old son, Luke Russert, who gave the eulogy. His uniqueness showed up before the eulogy was even given when Luke Russert asked the presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, to sit side by side in a show of unity as they move towards the presidential election in November. I thought that was more than symbolic, because I think we have the chance this year to show the heartfelt feelings and greatness of our country, which should not be steeped in hatred just because one is liberal or one is conservative, one is Democrat or one is Republican. We’ve had far too much of that.
Hamilton Jordan was the Chief of Staff to President Jimmy Carter. At age 32 or so, when Jimmy Carter was in his first year as Governor of Georgia, Hamilton wrote an 80 page document outlining how he could become President. Jimmy Carter followed it to the letter, and this unknown peanut farmer from Georgia who had no chance in the world to become President became President. President Carter acknowledges that fact today, and all of us in Georgia are well versed in the legend of Hamilton Jordan.
Hamilton died 2 days ago at age 63. He had battled cancer for 20 years. I am passing on to you a message sent to me by Hamilton’s good friend, and my good friend, Scott Miller. Scott Miller is one of the great marketing minds in America. He is Chairman of the Board of Zyman Group, a marketing company that works with the biggest and best companies in America. I thought you would enjoy his thoughts on Hamilton.