Cookie Gilchrist’s nickname gave the false impression of a man who might easily crumble.
One of the American Football League’s first marquee players, Gilchrist died of cancer Monday at the age of 75.
He was a 251-pound bruiser whose ferocious style drew comparisons to that of the great Jim Brown, and his grit and single-mindedness extended beyond the football field. Gilchrist took stands against racism and wasn’t afraid to demand better contracts.
He died at an assisted living facility near Pittsburgh, nephew Thomas Gilchrist said. He was first diagnosed with throat cancer, and the disease spread to his prostate and colon.
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“The Bills were very lucky to have procured the services of Cookie Gilchrist, who was one of the greatest fullbacks I have ever seen in all of my years in professional football,” said Ralph Wilson, the 92-year-old owner of the Bills.
Carlton Chester “Cookie” Gilchrist joined the Bills of the AFL in 1962 and spent three seasons there. He was the league’s player of the year in 1962, when he had 1,096 yards rushing and a league-leading 13 touchdowns. In 1964, Gilchrist and quarterback Jack Kemp led the Bills to their first of two straight AFL championships.
Before joining the Bills he spent six years in the Canadian Football League, where he was regarded as one of its top two-way players (linebacker/fullback).
Cornerback Booker Edgerson, a former Bills teammate, said Gilchrist was “just as good and maybe even better” than Brown.
RYAN TAKES AIM
Tom Brady skipped watching part of the New York Jets playoff game and still couldn’t leave football completely behind.
The New England Patriots quarterback spent Saturday night in a Broadway audience at the play “Lombardi.” He noticed many similarities between legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi and his own coach, Bill Belichick.
“They demand the best from their players,” Brady said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio. “They don’t give a damn who you are or what you’ve done. They care about what you’re going to do this week.”
This week the Patriots are preparing for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Jets, who advanced with a 17-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.
Jets coach Rex Ryan couldn’t resist aiming another zinger at Brady.
“Peyton Manning would have been watching our game,” Ryan said Monday with a huge grin.
Just last Thursday, he said no one studies like Manning.
“I know Brady thinks he does,” Ryan said then. “I think there’s a little more help from Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.”
Brady shied away from any verbal spat.
“Everybody’s obviously entitled to their opinion,” he said, “and maybe he’s right.”
Green Bay’s win over Philadelphia earned the highest television rating for a wild-card game in 12 years. … Ron Rivera emerged as the leading candidate to be Carolina’s next coach when the San Diego defensive coordinator arrived for a second interview with the Panthers. … Chicago signed receiver Onrea Jones and defensive tackle Tank Tyler to reserve/future contracts.