He was the number one draft pick in 1975. Tall, lanky, with an accurate aim and a rifle for an arm, he quickly began to get the Falcons lackluster offense on track. Aided by playmakers on defense, the running back tandem of Lynn Cain and William Andrews, and speedy wide receivers with excellent hands, Bart led the Falcons to a 12-4 record in 1980.
Known as “Peachtree Bart” for his carousing nightlife in downtown
This took the form of a four page spread starting on the front page of the sports section in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The reason this had such appeal for me was that I had, as a young teenager, also just become a Christian. I followed his career in high school as my faith grew. DeHaan died as a young man, unexpectedly, and this left many Falcons soul searching, seeking answers and guidance.
Bartkowski published a biography, which I still have to this day, titled, “Steve Bartkowski, Intercepted by Christ.” By this time I had gone to college, first at
There was no way in the 10,000 seat Thomas Road Baptist Church that I would be able to make my way through Liberty Security to the pulpit to tell Bartkowski that I was one of his biggest fans. Besides which, they often whisked Falwell and his entourage away during the ending prayer so that they would not be delayed with folks from the congregation wanting to chat.
So, time has passed. I am now in my mid-forties. Bartkowski largely keeps out of the public eye, and I suppose that is fitting, for the intense scrutiny of the media is hardly something one desires. The reason I consider him to be one of my heroes is for the stand he took publicly for Christ that inspired me. If I could, some day, I would like to have lunch with this gentleman, to say thanks, and to let him know how much this means to me. And Bart, if you ever read this, thank you. You are one of my heroes.