|Cookie Gilchrist Buffalo Bills|
Carlton Chester “Cookie” Gilchrist was born on May 25, 1935 in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. When Gilchrist was asked about how he got his nickname he said, “My mother called me 'Cupcake,' my father called me 'Doughnut,' so we settled on 'Cookie'." He has been a pro ever since he was a 185 pound teenager playing for Har-Brack high school in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. The NFL's Cleveland Browns signed him at 18, and shipped him off to Canada to get some experience. Gilchrist never played college football. (2)
Cookie Gilchrist goes to Canada
Cookie Gilchrist became a star when he went to Canada to play pro football. After two seasons in a semi-pro league, Gilchrist played six seasons in the CFL making the all-star game every season. He is the only player elected to the CFL Hall of Fame to refuse induction. He cites racism and exploitation as the reasons.
Cookie Gilchrist Buffalo Bills
When his brilliant career in the CFL had ended, Cookie Gilchrist helped put the Buffalo Bills on the football map. The 6-3 250 pound fullback was a punishing runner with attitude. “Cookie was the Jim Brown of the American Football League; he was the icon of the league,” said Booker Edgerson, a member of the Bills 1964 championship team. “But the biggest thing about Cookie is that Cookie did not take any mess off of anyone. That's his legacy.” (1)
Tom Day, a defensive end for the Bills said of Cookie Gilchrist, “There weren’t too many guys who could stop Cookie once he got up a full head of steam running. I saw the great Jim Brown play for the Browns and I saw Cookie. To me, they were equal. I think there were some who would say that Cookie might have been a little better.” (3)
Cookie Gilchrist said about himself, “When you weigh 251 pounds there's no sense in trying to run around smaller people. I just run through them.” (2) Against the San Diego Chargers early in the 1964 season, Gilchrist caught a swing pass from Quarterback Jack Kemp. Nobody on defense was fooled. One tackler after another, four defenders in all piled on top of Cookie. He finally went down after carrying them 25 yards down the field.
Cookie Gilchrist brought a swagger to the Buffalo Bills. He exuded toughness and showed leadership when necessary. “Cookie was a leader when someone needed to be a leader,” Edgerson said. “When nobody else wanted to confront the coaches he'd do it and he took a lot of heat for it, especially back then.” (1)
On November 15, 1964, Gilchrist became frustrated with the play calling and took himself out of the game. After the game, Coach Lou Saban cut Gilchrist. Thanks to quarterback Jack Kemp, Gilchrist was allowed to return after his apology and he helped the Bills win the 1964 AFL Title 20-7, rushing for 122 yards in the process. It was his last game in a Bills uniform as he was traded to the Denver Broncos following the season.
Cookie Gilchrist is AFL MVP
It didn’t take Cookie long to make his mark in the American Football League with the Buffalo Bills. During his first season with the team in 1962, Gilchrist had 214 carries for 1096 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns (an AFL record), caught 24 passes for another 319 yards and two more touchdowns in just 14 games. After the season, Gilchrist was named AP AFL MVP.
Cookie Gilchrist Runs for 243 Yards
It was December 8, 1963 and the Buffalo Bills were facing off against the New York Jets. The Bills won in a route, thanks to Cookie Gilchrist. For the game, he had 36 carries for a record 243 yards and five touchdowns. Daryle Lamonica said, “We just kept wondering how much he could take. I think he proved how much punishment he could take, as well as dish out, in that game. He was a one-man wrecking crew.” (3) His 243 yards rushing is an AFL record and was 6 yards better than Jim Brown’s NFL record.
Cookie Gilchrist Devastating Blocker
When I think of the most complete fullback’s in pro football history, I think of Marion Motley and Cookie Gilchrist. Both players were exceptional runners, tremendous run blockers, and were like an extra tackle on pass plays. They took it personally when the quarterback hit the ground. Offensive tackle Stew Barber said, “Cookie was a tremendous blocker. He could take a defensive end and throw him aside with no trouble at all. He was very strong.” (3)
1965 AFL All-Star Game
The most significant moment for Cookie Gilchrist may have come in 1965 on the eve of the AFL All-Star Game in New Orleans. Some black players who had visited the French Quarter had been refused admittance to two clubs. They came back enraged. Gilchrist organized a meeting and five hours later, 21 black players left town and vowed to boycott the game if it was held in New Orleans. The game was subsequently moved to Houston. (1)
Cookie Gilchrist Hall of Fame ?
During his first ten seasons playing professional football he was an all-star, both in the CFL and then the AFL. He rushed for over 4800 yards in the CFL and then had 1010 carries for 4293 yards, caught 110 passes for another 1135 yards and scored 43 touchdowns. He also may have been the best blocking fullback in pro football history. To me, this is a resume that belongs in Canton, Ohio in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
Cookie Gilchrist Biography Sources(1) A Cookie That Never Crumbled (1994, January 29) New York Times
(2) Any Time, Any Place (1964, November 6) Time Magazine
(3) Schultz, R. (2003) Legends of the Buffalo Bills, Sports Publishing LLC, pg. 18-21