Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and Ring of Honor member Steve Bartkowski was honored with the Davey O'Brien Legends Award on Monday night.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, Bartkowski became the first true franchise quarterback for the Falcons and ended his career as the team's all-time leader in nearly every meaningful passing stat. Bartkowski's records held firm until Matt Ryan began his tenure in Atlanta over two decades later.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Bartkowski led the Falcons to the playoffs three times during his 11 seasons in Atlanta despite playing in a tough NFC West division that also included the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. He guided the Falcons to their first-ever playoff appearance and victory, a 14-13 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978.
Bartkowski was named the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1975 after throwing for 1,662 yards and 15 touchdowns. He led the NFL in touchdown passes during the 1980 season while leading the Falcons to a 12-4 record, the best record in franchise history to that point. Bartkowski ended his 12-year NFL career with 24,124 passing yards, 156 touchdowns and a 55.9 completion percentage.
According to the award's official website, "The Davey O'Brien Legends Award was established in 2001 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Foundation and to pay tribute to Davey O'Brien. The Legends Award recognizes a college or professional quarterback who has made a significant contribution to the game of football, distinguished himself as an extraordinary leader and demonstrated exemplary conduct both on and off the football field."
The Davey O'Brien Award is given annually to the best NCAA quarterback. LSU's Joe Burrow was this year's recipient and was honored alongside Bartkowski on Monday evening. Previous Davey O'Brien Legends Award winners include such legends as Ron Jaworski, Warren Moon, Dan Fouts, Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach.