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 running 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 early Monday 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.
“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 Buffalo owner.
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.
Retired Buffalo News football writer Larry Felser covered Gilchrist during his days with the Bills and still regards him as the best to play the game. Felser wrote in 2004: “Any time. Any place. Any brand of football. Cookie was, pound for pound, the greatest all-around player I ever saw. He would be a superstar in today’s football.”
Panthers, Rivera close
Barring an 11th-hour change in direction or a snag in the negotiations, the Carolina Panthers are ready to hire San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera as their next coach, league sources said.
Rivera, who turned 49 on Friday, was in Charlotte on Monday meeting with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and other team officials after interviewing with general manager Marty Hurney and team president Danny Morrison last week.
Rivera could be announced as the fourth head coach in Panthers’ history as early as today.
Phillips with Houston
Wade Phillips reported to his first official day as the Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator on Monday, meeting with coach Gary Kubiak.
Phillips was hired last week, two days after Kubiak fired defensive coordinator Frank Bush, secondary coach David Gibbs, linebackers coach Johnny Holland and assistant linebackers coach Robert Saleh.
John Fox’s interview for the Denver Broncos’ coaching vacancy was rescheduled after he was unable to fly out of North Carolina due to bad weather. … Jets coach Rex Ryan said Darrelle Revis is “the best player in football” because the impact the Pro Bowl cornerback has on games is “amazing.”
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