Accountability Starts with Me

During my career in the NFL, I played in three Super Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings. We lost all three games. From the moment each game ended and ever since, I have only held one person responsible: me.

We lost those games because I didn’t play well enough. If I had made more plays, if I had completed more passes, if I had played better, we might have won those games. But I didn’t, and we lost. I was the quarterback, I was the leader. It was on me.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk in the White House that said “The Buck Stops Here.” That’s how it should be for any leader, whether it’s in politics, sports, or business. If I’m the leader, then I have to hold myself accountable for our performance—and I expect others to hold me accountable, too.

It would not have been right for me to find someone else to blame for our failures in the Super Bowl. “Oh, if only he had caught that pass,” or “If the defense had done such and such,” or “If they had done better.” No! If you’re going to be the leader, you can’t suddenly shrink into the background just because you’re encountering problems.

Too many “leaders” think that their job is to be out in public getting all the glory whenever things are good, and then to assign blame to others when something goes wrong. Got good news? It’s I, me, my. Bad news? “Mistakes were made.” “They” got it wrong.

I think that is completely backwards. When things are going well, a leader should share the glory with his team. Teams win, so when you win it’s time to celebrate the whole team! “We did something great!” But when you lose, that’s when it’s the leader’s job to own the mistake.

Bad news does not get better with age. The only way you can fix problems is when you take accountability for what happened and take steps to learn from the mistake and get better. If you’re too busy finding scapegoats and assigning blame, there’s no learning happening.

When we lost those Super Bowls, it was on me. But we learned and got better each time. That only happened because we had a culture of accountability, not blame.

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by Fran Tarkenton
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John P McKenzie, Cosby TN
5 years ago

Did my comment pass the test of time. Has oboma, the community organizer, SHOWN his hatred for America, Christians, the rule of law? Well, has he? IF you don’t see it, feel it and what to DO something about it you EAT liberal mucus. The stupidity of the current crop of America scares the shit out of me … YOUR grand-parents, YOUR great grand-parents would know what to do with this LITTLE commie punk … and it would NOT be to ELECT him anything. oboma is the greatest … ONE THING. He is a great liar. And he is going to “bring 100,000 Syrian muslims into this country to build the army of darkness he has been amassing to come into your bedroom and cut YOUR head off.

John P. McKenzie, Cosby, TN

6 years ago

For me, Fran was the quarterback that I loved to hate!

Whenever the Vikings played the Lions, no matter if the Lions were 3 touchdowns up, Fran always found a way to win.
He is a true leader who deserves to be in the NFL and the AMAC Hall of Fame.

Pete Ferretti
6 years ago

John McKenzie is right on . Obama is in no way qualified to be President and should be IMPEACHED! If Repubs win the Senate that should be their focus because it would solve our worst problems right away or at least get us on the right pathway. If they don’t win ( which is more likely) then they go ahead with INPEACHMENT ANYWAY just to show how really inept he was and is! It’s like me –a72 year old Diabetic — voted in as Quarterback to replace the current best Quarterback in the NFL!!! To do what’s right (the above), the Repubs. must remove Boehner and Isa ASAP first — one is a do nothing who is afraid of his own shadow and the other enjoys being lied to @ every 3rd sentence 8hrs a day every day for years so he always has something to do for TV. If you didn’t know better, you would think they were employed by Obama to either do nothing or stall until the Great Imposter (he’s even bi-racial, not Black) gets out of office and can’t be prosecuted.

6 years ago

Fran Tarkenton, for people who don’t know, was one of the most exciting and entertaining NFL players of all time–an unforgettable character known as “the scrambler”. A true Hall-of-Famer.

John P. McKenzie
6 years ago

To Mr. Tarkenton,

Like others here I am a lifetime Packer fan. You were always a quarterback that was very hard to hold down. Your legs were very good and your arm was among the best of all time. I salute you. Maybe you SHOULD go into politics, tho that is like asking a sane man to dive into a shark cage. But like a leaderless football team America is in a hard place right now and needs “old fashioned virtues and values”, which I believe you possess. Please forgive me for “using” your name to take a very necessary shot at the man in the Whitehouse presently. He has earned disrespect. He has earned impeachment … he has earned a lot of things except his salary. We all are seeing right now that this very advantaged equal opportunity/affirmative action man of style and “NO” substance was never qualified to hold an office so far above his head and above his abilities.

John P. McKenzie, Jr.
Cosby, TN

Ivan Berry
6 years ago

Hey, Fran, you better stay out of politics with an attitude like that. Your politicians NEVER own it when it goes bad. They live by the credo, “Hide it, lie about it, blame it on somebody else.” Even if something good does occur, they even lie to take credit for something they had little or nothing to do with. “Play ball” has a totally different meaning in the political arena. So does “team work.” Usually this means to go along to get along. So, Fran, keep as far away from politics as you are able. You are not made for that field of play. It’s ok to vote, though.

6 years ago

As a 55+ year Packer fan starting in the Lombardi era, coming by it naturally as a Wisconsin resident, I hated the Vikings and hated Fran’s scambling, which too often did kill the Pack. But love the man’s attitude. If more people looked to their own performances first there would be a lot fewer problems and many more solutions.

Lincoln Sorensen
6 years ago

Bill and Rick you are entitled to your opinions. I am a native of Minnesota and a fan and admirer of Fran Tarkenton even though I was still in the US Navy the first couple years of Viking Football and didn’t see Fran come in as the quarterback and beat the defending champ Chicago Bears in the teams first game.

My mantra has always been one should not complain if one does not have a well thought out solution to the reason for the complaint. If you don’t have a solution how do you know theree is a better way? If there is no better way then there is no point in complaining.

Rick, I am not a fan of Minnesota politics in general and never was. Their liberal structure with the most lucrative welfare, unemployment and other freebies has attracted the wrong element like the recent pot laws have attracted pot smokers to Colorado and washington. BUT, Minnesota has pioneered many advances as well. Check it out…you may be surprised.

Rick, as you stated, the avenues of communication are endless. and yes, we the people need to take advantage of this to build forces to let our voices be heard. We need our own leaders and they need to agree on a few priorities to work on to make changes. The first thing we need is to ban lobbying and campaign funding. REMOVE THE MONEY!!!! The candidates can post their positions with the media who should be mandated to provide a free slot or page one month prior to election day. This would also eliminate voter apathy which results from 2 years of campaigning which is utterly rediculous.

I agree we have too many lawyers in our public offices. One I do like is Trey Gowsy. Recently the same old GOP candidates are starting to reappear as runners, again. We need fresh thinkers who have actually not only stated what we need… but have actually outlined solutions as to how to get those things. WHAT A CONCEPT. Dr. Ben Carson is not a candidate yet, but should be. Check him out for yourself. Enter his name on you tube and listen to and watch him. Learn his upbringing.

Peter Mehl
6 years ago

I was a big Viking fan and always heartbroken when they lost the big one. I always liked Fran. He did amazing stuff but I like him more as just a man who has earned his way. He worked for what he got and what he says about leadership is dead on. The attitude of a leader musy be “If we fail, it is my fault. If we win…’you did it.'” That is the heart of a leader.

6 years ago

Unfortunately we have a POTUS in the form of a Three Card Monte dealer who is always right, always wins. Other people are wrong; other people lose. The problems of the world are ALL America’s fault, White America’s fault, don’cha know??

Anthony Bradley
6 years ago

Why not list the reasons why the general public does not know the truth about what going on and who”s fault it is.
Why wont ABC NBC CBS talk about what Obama screws up.

6 years ago

This article tells us, it all starts with us as individuals. Yes, that’s true, but the deck, today is stacked! We, the People, aren’t allowed to play the game with the same rules, or even with the same equipment. I believe the Socialists have not only taken over the Democratic Party, but that they’ve even infiltrated the Republican Party and we, the people, are playing the game against a stacked deck. How else can you explain that even when we seem to win, we still end up losing? Both parties are contaminated with lawyers, who just happen to be best friends, behind closed doors. An Ivy League lawyer doesn’t forget his roots, his brotherhood. We, the people, are only fodder for their ambitions. I, personally, don’t vote for lawyers … but the deck is stacked when both party’s candidates are lawyers, we, the people, lose!

Bill Melville
6 years ago

I am a big NFL football fan. However, when I look at AMAC news, can you cut the Tarkenton baloney about his football leadership. It is totally unrelated to what I thought I joined this organization for.

Put an article up on what AMAC is doing for its members.

6 years ago
Reply to  Bill Melville

Bill you must still be bitter about your Vikings losing those three Superbowls. Why else would you make such a comment. If you don’t like Tarkenton then don’t read his notes. Simple, turn the channel. I like it frankly and I loved watching him play. Minnesota was not my team but he was fun to watch. In fact nothing Minnesota is my cup of tea.*

Sandy Roerish
6 years ago
Reply to  Rick

My husband was born in Minnesota!!!!!!

6 years ago
Reply to  Rick

And, I’m still bitter about the Vikings always beating my L.A. Rams back in the day. Wonder if Bill is an old-time Rams fan, too.

6 years ago
Reply to  Rick

Bill is trying to say that we want to hear about what AMAC is doing for it’s members. He isn’t saying anything about the time Fran Tarkenton played in the NFL. And this is what we need to focus on, not about how we felt when He played in the NFL. What has AMAC done for us? I belong to another PAC for Seniors and am told exactly what is being done and even get involved with telling my Congressional and Senate members what I think about this or that issue. So, I agree with Bill, and say, put an article on what AMAC is doing for it’s members. Not like AARP that talks about these great health plans or insurance plans but they could really careless about it’s members. Several years ago, AARP jumped on the bandwagon about Medicare Part D coverage for prescription coverage and told everyone what they needed to do to select a plan. But what they didn’t say is if we already had a Health insurance carrier that covered prescription coverage that we didn’t need to get this plan. There were a lot of people that lost a lot of money until they realized that they were told wrong information and AARP didn’t help the situation since they were promoting some of the plans so they could make a buck as well. I don’t have anything to do with AARP and glad my friends don’t either. They do not do anything for Seniors like they say they do. It’s a big lie.

Jan Millen
6 years ago
Reply to  Bill Melville

As Norton on the Honeymooners would say: Geez! What a Grouch!!

I guess a bunch of the articles on AMAC could be considered the same thing. Read and take what you want from the article and start reading the next article.

Have a great day!

6 years ago
Reply to  Jan Millen

Well, Jan, if You don’t really care about what AMAC is doing or should be doing for it’s member’s maybe You shouldn’t be one. There are a lot of people sitting on the sidelines as the Seniors are being messed over by policies being made and I do want to know what AMAC is doing to support us. A little article here or there is not cutting it. What is AMAC really doing for us? I’m glad for Grouches that speak up for the rest of us. Someone needs to, if AMAC isn’t doing it.

I hope You have a great day as well!

Disruptive Element
6 years ago

If in this day of technology I would think that citizens could unite, communicate and band together to make a louder uprising through the media Washington using press conferences, etc. being very vocal.. What I notice is a lot of complaining, offering of ideas but no actions.
I notice that when the government wants its way we the legal citizen taxpayers are overwhelmed with the use of that technology telling us we are bigots against illegal immigration, we are racists, we are this and that because we don’t want traditional marriage changed when they could have civil unions instead. They produce movies and television shows drowning us in images of what we should accept until we accept it. We the people- has been forgotten by we the people and we have let them steamroll over us.
So unless we can unite in some way to overwhelm them by not backing down and accepting their mandates it is over and this chitchat is useless. Fran Tarkenton is correct it starts with each of us.

Sandy Roerish
6 years ago

Thumbs up Disruptive!!!

6 years ago

You have that right! There are a lot of people sitting on the sidelines while the rest of us are fighting what isn’t right about the system, They want to criticize and complain but as You said, they don’t get involved and this is why we are in the mess we are in today. Just like right before President Obama’s reelection. IF You would have read all the comments on the Yahoo forum from all the people that wrote articles, You would have thought Romney was going to win by a landslide. That didn’t happen. All these so called experts that were writing on the forum sit behind a screen and do all this talking but can’t stand up and really do something about it. They rely on people like Disruptive element and I to fight their battles in the flesh while they again, hide behind a forum and keep yapping their mouths off about what isn’t right. WE have to band together. Neither party is getting the job done on Capital Hill and the American People are getting messed over for it. Seniors are paying more and more of their pensions on things that was supposed to have been taken care of a long time ago so it wouldn’t come out of our pockets but forget that. And Congress or the President doesn’t care because they already have their pension plans protected by their voting themselves a good plan and forget the rest of America. It takes 20 years for Soldiers defending this Country to get 50% of their pay that they were making while on Active Duty, but it only takes 4 years for Congress to be able to get a big fat pension for themselves when they resign from office. What hardships do they have that the Soldiers don’t have? Do they have to be away from their families for 6 months to even a year or a year and a half like Soldiers do? Other than throwing parties and making millions off of Political Action Committees and Special Interest Groups, a Soldier has to be ready 24 hours a day to defend our Country. How many times does a Congressional person have to pack up and leave their community to go overseas to a different culture and live there for several years while defending their Country? This is just a small example of the disparages between a Political Candidate in Washington and how the other Americans live. And most sit ideally by, while this stuff goes on. They feel if it doesn’t impact them, then who cares. Think I’m kidding? Watch the TV show Biggest Losers Or Survivors. How long does it take for the people on those shows take to start crying about how much they miss their families? But yet do any of those people think about all those Soldiers that have to leave their families when they go and either deploy or have to go on a one year tour or more overseas? No, they don’t even think about their hardships until it effects them. Watch the shows and see if I am not right. This is just an example where people just don’t get it when it comes time to fight. I’m not sure if we had the actual Revolutionary War today if most would even have gotten involved in fighting for the freedom of our new Country. It’s that bad and yes, it also true. We have a lot of Americans spoiled and expecting other people to fight their battles. And this is shame and this is why our Congress doesn’t care about the deficit or any other important issues because they know the American people don’t care. And they are mostly right.

6 years ago

awesome attitude thank you

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x