Hey Falcoholics, I’m back with another edition of The Falcoholic’s Throwback Thursday series. This weekly segment highlights a former Atlanta Falcons player and discusses what they did for the franchise.
Whether you’ve been a fan since the inaugural season, or just became a fan recently, this series will give insight on players from the past. This week we will be focusing on quarterback Steve Bartkowski.
Steve Bartkowski was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 12, 1952. He attended Buchser High School in Santa Clara, Calif., where he was a football, basketball, and baseball star. There, he garnered a lot of attention from college scouts, receiving over 100 scholarship offers from institutions around the country.
Ultimately, Steve decided to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where he could play both football and baseball. During the 1972 season, Steve struggled, throwing for 944 yards, four touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. A year later in 1973, Steve threw for 910 yards, four touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Then came the 1974 season, where Steve’s game mightily improved. Steve threw for 2,580 yards, 12 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, which was enough to award him a consensus All-American. He also was an All-American baseball player, playing first base.
With the first overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Steve Bartkowski. The team originally had the third selection, but ultimately traded the pick as well as offensive lineman George Kunz to the Baltimore Colts for the first overall pick. During his rookie season, Steve threw for 1,662 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions, and was named the NFL Rookie of the Year.
Five games into the 1976 season, Bartkowski injured his knee, which would eventually lead to a total of 11 lifetime knee operations. The following season, Bartkowski only started 7 games, and was eventually benched during the 1978 preseason. This might have been the best thing to happen to him, as things were put into perspective, and his career changed for the better.