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)