Atlanta Falcons Great Steve Bartkowski Honored

By Michael Collins

He’s been inducted into the Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor, and now former Falcon great and number one overall pick Steve Bartkowski can add one more item to his already impressive resume…member of the College Football Hall of Fame, representing the California Golden Bears

Bartkowski joins 16 other players and coaches in the 2012 class. The National Football Foundation announced the 2012 inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday. For a player to be inducted, he must have received First Team All-America recognition by an NCAA-recognized selector.  This criteria has met with some criticism among fans who think it leads to many great players being snubbed.

Bartkowski didn’t always play like an Hall of Famer while at Cal however.  His first season he shared the starting job with former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo.  Then in 1973, his second year, he had a terrible season as a starter and was nearly benched.  But in 1974 he put together a remarkable season, throwing for 2580 yards – including four 300 yard games –  and 12 touchdowns.  All this despite suffering a shoulder injury during the season.

Coming out of Cal, he was the overall number one pick in the 1975, going to the Falcons.  He is still the only Golden Bear to have ever been taken with the first overall pick.

He was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1975, but had his career slowed by numerous knee injuries after that season.  He led the NFL with 31 touchdown passes in 1980, and was a Pro Bowl selection in both 1980 and 1981. He quarterbacked the Falcons in their first three playoff appearances, and led the Falcons to their first ever division championship in 1980.

Bartkowski is still the Falcons all-time leader in passing yards (23,470), completions (1,870), touchdowns (154). and holds the single season record for touchdown passes (31).  He is also one of only nine quarterbacks in NFL history who have had consecutive 30-touchdown passing seasons (1980 & 1981).

The complete list for the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame inductees is as follows:

Charles Alexander, LSU RB (1975-78)
Otis Armstrong, Purdue RB (1969-72)
Steve Bartowski, Cal QB (1972-74)
Hal Bedsole, USC WR (1961-63)
Dave Casper, ND TE (1971-73)
Ty Detmer, BYU QB (1988-91)
Tommy Kramer, Rice QB (1973-76)
Art Monk, Syracuse WR (1976-79)
Greg Myers, Colorado State  S (1992-95)
Jonathan Ogden, UCLA OT (1992-95)
Gabe Rivera, Texas Tech DT (1979-82)
Mark Simoneau, Kansas State LB (1996-99)
Scott Thomas, Air Force S (1982-85)
John Wooten, Colorado OG (1956-58)

Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee (1992-08)
Jimmy Johnson, Oklahoma State & Miami (1979-83)
R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M (1989-02)

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