Dec. 4, 2012
NEW YORK CITY - Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski is in New York City for his official induction into the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday during the NFF's 55th Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. Fans can watch a live stream of the event Tuesday starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
"This is an incredible honor, I'm overwhelmed by it," Bartkowski said during a press conference earlier Tuesday. "It's an elite group of guys who played college athletics. I'm proud for my university, the University of California Berkeley ... When an award like this comes along this late in life I think you have a tendency to appreciate it a lot more than if it happened five, six, eight, 10 years out of the game. I am thrilled to be here and amongst this elite group of athletes."
A star-studded College Football Hall of Fame class will headline the event, while 15 of the current game's brightest stars will also collect $300,000 in scholarships and vie for the coveted William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, as the nation's top scholar-athlete.
"Many people have come together to support this year's event, and their efforts promise to make the event a celebration for the ages. We thank them all." said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "As a bridge between the regular season and the bowl season, the NFF dinner provides a unique setting where we briefly set aside intense rivalries to join together to celebrate our sport. If you're passionate about college football, there will be no better place to be on December 4."
"The National Football Foundation represents everything right about our great sport, and this night simply features the best and brightest of college football," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "The accomplishments of our 2012 honorees make us all proud while providing us the ultimate vehicle for inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps."
Bartkowski earned consensus first-team All-America honors in 1974 by leading the nation in passing with 2,580 yards. Bartkowski was also universally named the best quarterback in the West following his senior year after being selected team MVP, first-team All-Pac-10, All-Coast Team and the NorCal Player of the Year.
After becoming the only Cal player to ever be selected as the first pick in the NFL Draft in 1975, Bartkowski played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons (1975-85) and Los Angeles Rams (1986). He was named the 1975 NFL Rookie of the Year, appeared in two Pro Bowls and compiled 24,124 career passing yards and 156 touchdown passes. He is Atlanta's all-time leader passing yards (23,740) and touchdown passes (154), and a member of the organization's Ring of Honor.
Bartkowski becomes the 16th former Cal player and 22nd person associated with the program to earn induction into the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame.
Listed chronologically by year of induction he joins fellow former Bears Harold Muller (1951), Stan Barnes (1954), Bob Herwig (1964), Babe Horrell (1969), Dan McMillan (1971), Walter Gordon (1975), Rod Franz (1977), Vic Bottari (1981), Les Richter (1982), Sam Chapman (1984), Jackie Jensen (1984), Matt Hazeltine (1989), Craig Morton (1992), Ed White (1999) and Joe Kapp (2003).
Four College Football Hall of Fame coaches who have headed the Bears' program are Andy Smith (1951), Lynn Waldorf (1966), Buck Shaw (1972) and Bill Ingram (1973). Cal assistant coaches John Ralston (1992) and Eggs Manske (1999) are also members.
Bartkowski was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990, and in addition to his football exploits was an All-American first baseman for the Cal baseball team in 1973. He also hosted the outdoors shows Backroad Adventures with Steve Bartkowski on TNN and Suzuki's Great Outdoors with Steve Bartkowski on ESPN. The Atlanta native currently serves on the board of directors for multiple organizations and is a member of the Christian Sportsmen Fellowship.