Cookie Never Crumbled: A Teammate’s Memories
By Ed Rutkowski, Former Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver
Editor’s Note: Ed Rutkowski played wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills from 1963-1968, and was key player on the team’s two AFL Championships. He was also Cookie Gilchrist’s teammate for 3 seaons. Buffalo Sports Page asked Rutkowski for his memories of Gilchrist, upon Cookie’s induction to the Bills Wall of Fame.
It’s a well deserved and earned honor. He was not only big and fast, but physically tough and a vicious blocker. Linebackers and defensive backs feared him because he would just as soon run over or through them…than away from them. He also had a mean streak. They knew it and they were fearful of it.
Cookie also gave us a great psychological advantage. With him in our backfield, we felt we could beat any team, any time or anywhere….no matter the score or where we were on the field. To a certain extent, we thought we were invincible with him in our backfield.
I can’t tell you how proud we were of him when he, Jack Kemp and Ernie Warlick led the boycott of the AFL All Star game in New Orleans because of the blatant discrimination against the black ballplayers (separate hotels, etc.). They forced the AFL to change the location of the game to Houston. It was a critical moment in the Civil Rights Movement and we, as former Bills, were proud to have played a significant part in it because of Cookie’s leadership. It’s part of our legacy.
As I’ve told people many times, if I was walking down a dark alley I’d want him next to me. If I was in a foxhole I’d want him there with me. If we were deep in our end zone I’d want him in our huddle because you could always count on him to have your back. He was one of a kind and I doubt we’ll ever see another quite like him.
Cookie…rest in Peace, friend.