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.

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John P McKenzie, Cosby TN
4 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… Read more »

5 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
5 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),… Read more »

5 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
5 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… Read more »

Ivan Berry
5 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… Read more »

5 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
5 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?… Read more »

Peter Mehl
5 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.

5 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
5 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.

5 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… Read more »

Bill Melville
5 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.

Disruptive Element
5 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.… Read more »

5 years ago

awesome attitude thank you

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