Zeke Bratkowski

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Zeke Bratkowski
refer to caption
Bratkowski in June 2008.
No. 12
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1931-10-20) October 20, 1931 (age 84)
Place of birth: Danville, Illinois
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school: Danville (IL) Schlarman
College: Georgia
NFL Draft: 1953 / Round: 2 / Pick: 17
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts: 1,484
Pass completions: 762
Percentage: 51.3
TDINT: 65–122
Passing yards: 10,345
QB Rating: 54.3
Player stats at NFL.com

Edmund Raymond "Zeke" Bratkowski (born October 20, 1931) is a former American football player, a quarterback in the National Football League for fourteen seasons with the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, and Green Bay Packers.[1]

He was an All-American at the University of Georgia in Athens, and later was an assistant coach in the NFL for over two decades. He is the father of former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski.[2]

Early years[edit]

Born and raised in Danville, Illinois, Bratkowski played high school football at Schlarman Academy in Danville and graduated in 1949. He came to national prominence in his sophomore season in at Georgia in 1951,[3] and was twice the SEC passing leader under head coach Wally Butts. During his three-year career with the Bulldogs, he completed 360 passes for 4,863 yards.

Bratkowski was considered one of college football's greatest quarterbacks of his day and was the NCAA's all-time leading passer until 1961. Today, he still ranks sixth on Georgia's list of career passing leaders. Bratkowski also led the NCAA in punting his senior year in 1953 with a 42.6 yard average. He was selected for the North–South All-Star Game in Miami in December, and led the South to a 20–0 victory.[4]

Playing career[edit]

Bratkowski was selected in the second round of the 1953 NFL draft in January,[5] 17th overall, by the Chicago Bears as a "future choice" after his redshirt junior season,[6] then played his fifth-year senior season at Georgia in 1953.[7] He joined the Bears as a rookie in 1954,[7] and after George Blanda was lost for the season with a separated shoulder in mid-November,[8] Bratkowski started and won the last four games of the season.[9] Bratkowski then served in the U.S. Air Force for two years, missing the 1955 and 1956 seasons.[10] He returned in 1957 and shared time at quarterback with Ed Brown,[11] and played five seasons in Chicago, through 1960.

He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in March 1961,[12][13] and played in L.A. for 2½ seasons before being signed in October 1963 by Vince Lombardi for the $100 waiver fee to become the "super sub" to Bart Starr.[6][14][15] In Green Bay, Bratkowski was nicknamed "Uncle Zekie", and became an ideal backup and spot starter during the Lombardi championship era.[1][16][17] In a 15-year NFL career, he passed for 10,345 yards and 65 touchdowns.

In the Western Conference playoff game versus the Baltimore Colts in 1965, Bratkowski relieved the injured Starr early in the game and led the Packers to a 13–10 overtime victory on December 26 at Lambeau Field.[18][19][20] The Packers went on to win the NFL championship game against the Cleveland Browns on January 2, 1966.[21][22][23] This was the first of three consecutive NFL titles for the Packers, unprecedented in the playoff era (since 1933), and yet to be repeated..

After coaching under Phil Bengtson in 1969 and 1970, he came out of retirement to play again for the Packers in 1971 under first-year head coach Dan Devine,[1] and appeared in six games, with one start.

A superbly conditioned athlete, Bratkowski was an early advocate of aerobic training for pro football players.

Coaching career[edit]

After his playing career, Bratkowski became quarterback coach/offensive coordinator for Chicago, Baltimore / Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and New York Jets. He was also a quarterbacks coach with Cleveland and the Jets and worked two stints as a Green Bay assistant as well as the Baltimore Ravens.

While Bratkowski was coaching the Chicago Bears quarterbacks during the 1973 season, head coach Abe Gibron abruptly promoted him to offensive coordinator. Gibron shortly after pressed him into service for one game as a backup quarterback.

Halls of Fame[edit]

Bratkowski was inducted into the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1989. He was elected to the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He was inducted into the University of Georgia's Circle of Honor in 2006,[24] and was the first member of his high school's hall of fame in 1974.[25]

See also[edit]

Referencces[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Bratkowski finally on top after career as super-sub". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. UPI. September 5, 1971. p. 6C. 
  2. ^ Mulligan, Kevin (December 12, 1992). "For Bratkowskis, it's relative". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Bratkowski threatens SEC passing records". Florence times. Alabama. Associated Press. November 16, 1951. p. 13. 
  4. ^ "Bratkowski paces South victory, 20-0". Milwaukee Journal. United Press. December 26, 1953. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Prell, Edward (January 23, 1953). "Bears pick 'sleeper' as no. 1 in draft". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, part 3. 
  6. ^ a b Hollow, Cooper (October 30, 1963). "Packers get Bratkowski from Rams as insurance". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3. 
  7. ^ a b "Chicago Bears happy; sign Bratkowski". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. February 9, 1954. p. 9. 
  8. ^ Strickler, George (November 15, 1954). "Cards lose; Browns crush Bears, 39-10". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, part 4. 
  9. ^ "Bratkowski to enter Air Force next month". Ocala Star-Banner. Florida. Associated Press. December 21, 1954. p. 8. 
  10. ^ "Bratkowski led Eglin fliers defeat Seminole frosh, 25-13". Florida Flambeau. Tallahassee. Florida State University Students. October 16, 1956. p. 3. 
  11. ^ "Bratkowski gets coaching job". St. Petersburg Times. Florida. Associated Press. February 13, 1969. p. 4C. 
  12. ^ "Zeke Bratkowski is sent to Rams". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. March 15, 1961. p. 19. 
  13. ^ "Bears trade Bratkowski to L.A. Rams". Chicago Tribune. March 15, 1961. p. 1, part 4. 
  14. ^ Johnson, Chuck (October 30, 1963). "Packers get Rams' Bratkowski as insurance at quarterback". Milwaukee Journal. p. 21, part 2. 
  15. ^ "Packers buy Bratkowski". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. October 30, 1963. p. 11D. 
  16. ^ Murray, Jim (December 20, 1966). "Nothing upsets relief specialist Zeke Bratkowski". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. (Los Angeles Times). p. 13. 
  17. ^ Wolf, Ron (September 19, 1985). "Bratkowski cherishes days with Packers". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, part 3. 
  18. ^ "Packers win, 13 to 10, for NFL Western title". Milwaukee Sentinel. December 27, 1965. p. 1, part 1. 
  19. ^ Lea, Bud (December 27, 1965). "Chandler 'kicks' Packers to title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2, part 2. 
  20. ^ Strickler, George (December 27, 1965). "Packers win, 13-10, in 'sudden death'". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 3. 
  21. ^ Strickler, George (January 3, 1966). "Green Bay wins N.F.L. crown, 23 to 12". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 3. 
  22. ^ Lea, Bud (January 3, 1966). "Packers blast Browns for title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2, part 2. 
  23. ^ Hand, John (January 3, 1966). "Green Bay's ball-control tactics beat Browns for title, 23-12". Youngstown Vindicator. Ohio. Associated Press. p. 18. 
  24. ^ "Circle of Honor". University of Georgia Athletics. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Hall of Fame". Danville, Illinois: Schlarman Academy. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 

External links[edit]