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Ram Notebook : Bartkowski Not Sure He'll Return

November 20, 1986|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

Quarterback Steve Bartkowski had this nice little dream. After 10 seasons in Atlanta, he would top off a fine career by leading the Rams to the Super Bowl. His oft-injured right knee would allow him enough mobility to keep from getting killed.

Finally, he would finally be a leader on a winning team.

Is that close?

"You can picture what the script would have been," Bartkowski said Wednesday. "I thought it would be more fluid, more successful. It just didn't happen, for any number of reasons."

The Rams, as it turned out, did get the quarterback they wanted. His last name was Everett, though.

Jim Everett, of course, made a smashing debut last Sunday and won the starting job for at least the rest of the decade. So where does that leave Bartkowski, who had lost his job to Steve Dils even before Everett emerged as a star against the New England Patriots?

Will he be back next year?

"I don't know," Bartkowski said. "I haven't given it much thought."

Bartkowski said he wouldn't mind finishing his career as a tutor for Everett. Or in a role similar to Steve Grogan's in New England. Grogan lost his starting job to Tony Eason, but has remained active by calling all the Patriots' offensive plays.

"I talked to him (Grogan) at the game," Bartkowski said. "He said that kind of made up for not being in there."

But there are some who might wonder whether Everett will ever need a tutor. And there has been some talk of Everett calling his own plays next season.

Where would that leave Bartkowski?

"I don't know if I could be in a situation where I'm not contributing or just throwing on the scout team," he said. "That's more difficult."

Bartkowski, in fact, may have watched his career slipping away last Sunday as Everett pierced the Patriot secondary for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"There's no doubt, he's very, very talented," Bartkowski said of Everett. "It was a good situation for him. Being down, 13-0, some might say that's a rotten situation, but I thought it was probably a great situation. He had to throw to catch up. He had to throw a lot on first down."

Bartkowski started six games this season, completing 48% of his passes for 654 yards and 2 touchdowns.

His downfall came Sept. 28 when he was hit on the right knee by Philadelphia safety Andre Waters.

Bartkowski missed the next game against Tampa Bay and eventually started two more games after that, but Ram Coach John Robinson wasn't pleased with Bartkowski's mobility.

Bartkowski's knee is better, but now it may not matter.

The success of the New Orleans Saints this season might be traced to certain economic trends.

It seems new Coach Jim Mora has hit the Saints right where it counts.

"Before, everyone said and did what they wanted," star linebacker Rickey Jackson said. "With this guy here (Mora), you can do the same thing, but look for a big fine with it."

Apparently, money talks. The Saints, who play the Rams at Anaheim Stadium Sunday, are 6-5 and have three straight victories.

The Saints have never won four in a row.

"Anytime a guy is taking money, things are going to straighten up," Jackson said.

How bad is it? Well, last week linebacker Sam Mills and cornerback Dave Waymer were fined $600 for arriving late to a team meeting.

The Saints must wear suits and ties and collared shirts on road trips. If they don't, it's bad news.

"It's bucks out of the pocket," Jackson said.

Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has even been hit a few times.

"I've been fined for jive stuff, stuff that isn't supposed to be a fine," Jackson said. "It was just to make an example out of me for the hell of it."

Sounds serious.

"Looking at cheerleaders on the sidelines," Jackson said. "That's a jive way to be fined."

Jackson's bill so far this season has totaled $150.

Like most teams, the Saints will surely toss all the fine money into a season-ending party fund.

Fat chance.

"They're so cheap around here that the money's going back to them," Jackson said.

Who's them?

"It's going back to to (General Manager Jim) Finks and (owner Tom) Benson," Jackson said.

Everett's debut against New England, of course, shook the Orange County community. Fans couldn't wait to see him again. They pounded down Ram ticket booths this week to get the few tickets remaining for Sunday's game against the Saints in Anaheim Stadium. An "Everett Frenzy" has caused the Rams to hire extra help to man the phones.

OK, now for the facts: As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Rams had more than 15,000 seats left for Sunday's game. For the game to be televised locally, it must sell out by 1 p.m. today.

Ram Notes Injury update: Safety Tim Fox (thigh) and tight end Tony Hunter (shin) are listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. Guard Dennis Harrah (knee) did not practice Wednesday and may not practice today. But he should be ready for the Saints, Coach John Robinson said. . . . Replay note: Robinson has criticized the NFL's instant replay system all season. Last Sunday, however, a replay confirmed that Henry Ellard kept both feet in bounds on his 34-yard touchdown catch from Jim Everett. Officials initially ruled the pass incomplete. "I was considering not accepting it," Robinson said of the ruling. He was kidding. . . . Safety Mike Fox, who was with the Rams in training camp, received another tryout Wednesday.

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