By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

No. 19: February 24, 1965 – The Bills trade Cookie Gilchrist to Denver for Billy Joe.

Cookie Gilchrist is a legend in Buffalo sports history. He tried but failed to jump directly from high school to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, so he headed to Canada to start his pro career there. Gilchrist spent six years in the CFL before trying his luck with the Bills of the American Football League in 1962.

Someone once said that Cookie could have played almost every position on the field. He was a 6-3, 250-pound combination of speed and muscle. The fullback ran for more than 1,000 yards in his first year in Buffalo, and was close to that number in 1963 and 1964. Gilchrist was a big part of the team that won the 1964 AFL championship by beating San Diego.

However, Gilchrist wasn’t a typical player for his time. He said he stood up for his principles at a time when such actions, particularly by African American athletes, were unpopular. Gilchrist had taken himself off the field at one point in the 1964 over a play-calling dispute. The situation was patched up briefly, but the team by then couldn’t wait to push him out the door. Gilchrist was traded to Denver for Billy Joe in a swap of fullbacks. Cookie had one good season for the Broncos before knee problems ended his career.

Joe spent one season in Buffalo, running for only 377 yards. The fullback was a backup on the 1968 New York Jets team that won a Super Bowl. He was no Cookie Gilchrist, in more ways than one.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *