Bartkowski Retires From Football After 12 Seasons


Quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who spent 11 National Football League seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and his last one with the Rams, officially announced his retirement Wednesday, citing a chronic knee problem that has slowed him considerably in recent years.

“My heart and spirit say press on, but the flesh is unable to obey,” said Bartkowski, in a statement issued by his attorney, Leigh Steinberg.

Bartkowski, 34, has had five operations on his right knee. After being released by Atlanta in 1985, he was signed by the Rams as a free agent in April 1986.


He started six of the first seven games for the Rams last season, but his role diminished because of his recurring knee problem and the arrival of rookie quarterback Jim Everett.

The Rams chose not to re-sign Bartkowski this season.

Bartkowski completed 61 of 126 passes last season for 654 yards and 2 touchdowns. He finished his career having passed for 156 touchdowns and more than 24,000 yards.

Bartkowski, who played at Cal, was the first player taken in the 1975 NFL draft. He enjoyed immediate success with the Falcons, where he was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.

Long regarded as one of the finest deep passers in the league, Bartkowski had his best season in 1980, when he was named to the Pro Bowl. He said he is considering a career in the ministry or sports broadcasting.

Bartkowski is currently an executive for a pizza company in Atlanta.