By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

Cookie Gilchrist – Signed by the Bills in 1962

Cookie Gilchrist’s stay in Buffalo was relatively short. His impact on the franchise was the stuff of legends.

Gilchrist came to Buffalo from the Canadian Football League. He spent six years across the border, and was an All-Pro five times. In 1962, the Bills had hopes of signing Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis of Syracuse, but he joined the Cleveland Browns of the NFL instead. Gilchrist was something of a consolation prize.

Veteran Buffalo sportswriter Larry Felser used to say that Gilchrist might have been able to play any position on a football field. At 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, he was a unique package of size and speed. Gilchrist ran for 1,096 yards with 13 touchdowns in 1962 and was an All-AFL pick. It was more of the same in 1963 – 979 yards with 12 touchdowns. Everything came together in 1964, when the fullback ran for 981 yards as the Bills won the AFL championship for the first time.

But Gilchrist was a proud African American who often stood up for his principles, which didn’t make him popular with management in that era. He also may have had problems with authority. In any event, the Bills traded him to Denver for Billy Joe, ending a fascinating relationship. Gilchrist had a good year with the Broncos but slumped after that. He was done with football after 1967.

Here’s a nice look back at his career:

(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Your email address will not be published.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 *