NFL legend Fran Tarkenton is 75 today, but rather than celebrate his birthday, one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen is more worried about the league's biggest lie. Drug use.
Tarkenton had an 18 season career in the NFL, playing for both the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, competing in three Super Bowls but earning no rings.
There is perhaps no better player or person that could have an opinion on the difference between the NFL in 1961 compared with 54 years later. As Tarkenton puts it, there are "much bigger and faster bodies" playing now than those that Tarkenton played against and with in the 1960's and 70's.
Tarkenton lets loose
But rather than put this down to a leap in training methods, the nine-time Pro Bowler firmly believes that the NFL's biggest secret is to blame. Human Growth Hormone that is.
This is not some kind of uncovered secret that the NFL has been hiding that Tarkenton has all of a sudden revealed. It's well known that the NFL's human growth hormone policy has always left something to be desired, and the legendary QB is still not happy despite the fact that the NFL finally started testing on the drug during the 2014 NFL season.
- Former NFL player Josh Jarboe arrested on drug charges
- Wes Welker blasts NFL's drugs policy after PED-related suspension
- Former stars say NFL supplied them with illegal drugs
"He's convinced that countless NFL players are using performance-enhancing drugs," USA Today wrote of Fran Tarkenton.
"This generation of players is absolutely at great risk of harm and short life," the Hall of Fame quarterback told USA TODAY Sports. "And I would be less than responsible if I knew that and didn't speak out."
Professor speaks out
Tarkenton isn't the only person to voice his concern this week, with Charles Yesalis, a professor at Penn State and expert on performance-enhancing drugs, questioning the NFL's current stance. This year the league didn't catch any player of using HGH after implementing a drug-testing policy which didn't even include testing after games.
"Show me where guys have gotten slower or less strong," Yesalis said. "I don't think you can show me that. God hasn't changed the formula genetically. I know this.
"You're working with the same human recipe. These are bigger guys running faster and are stronger every year. These drugs are available. They have the financial wherewithal to obtain them. They work, and there's loopholes in the testing. Most common-sense men and women would come to a conclusion of skepticism as to the success."
One day the league will wake up.