Jack writes this was "a bio of Fran Tarkenton which was 'by Fran Tarkenton as told to Jack Olsen.' It was also a series in Sports Illustrated."


You're the quarterback on a pro football team. You step up to the line ... look over the defenses ... call your signals ... take the snap from center ... drop back seven quick steps and look for an open pass receiver ...

There aren't any. And in the meantime, a 285-pound defensive end has smashed his way through your blocking and is about to annihilate you. What do you do now?

If you're "The Scrambler" -- Fran Tarkenton of the New York Giants -- you run for your life! Maybe you manage to convert a broken play into a solid gain, or maybe you wind up being thrown for a loss. Either way, you've kept several million fans hypnotized before their TV sets.

Here, in his football autobiography, pro football's most unorthodox quarterback tells his story. Why is he so eager to desert his protection and roam around the field? Basically, Tarkenton insists, he isn't -- he's really a conventional pocket passer by preference. But when he's forced to choose between a certain loss and a possible gain, "it's better to scramble than to lose!"

The record tends to support his argument. Without Tarkenton, the Giants managed only a single victory during the 1966 season. The following year, he led essentially the same team to a respectable 7-won, 7-lost record. And after eight years as a pro, he ranks fifth on the list of all-time passing greats.

Tarkenton's account of his colorful and controversial career is enlivened by dozens of revealing anecdotes about teams and players. He talks candidly of his sometimes stormy relationship with coach Norm Van Brocklin during his six years with the Minnesota Vikings. And he gives a vivid, often humorous, insider's view of the pressure, the fear, the exhilaration, and the incredible mental and physical effort that are the professional football player's lot. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of a bone-jarring tackle, and lie there on the ground beneath 800 pounds of opposing players? "It's kind of peaceful down there," Tarkenton reports. "It's a good time to be planning your next play."

Written with honesty and insight, and featuring 16 full pages of action photos, Better Scramble Than Lose will fascinate every football fan.