Wednesday, July 2, 2014

1964 Profile: Cookie Gilchrist

Fullback
No. 34
"Regarded as one of the best running backs in pro football, Cookie Gilchrist will be trying to regain the AFL ball-carrying title this season. Hobbled by injuries, he gained 979 yards - about 700 of them in the final six games, including a one-game pro record of 243. In 1962 he led the AFL with 1,096 yards. Since coming to the Bills from Canada, his two-season total is 2,063 - the best in the league.
One of the most colorful players in pro football, he has amazing speed for his 6-2, 240-pound size."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"Cookie Gilchrist was not shy in telling of his disenchantment as a Bill prior to pre-season drills and he expressed a desire to be traded. Off his '63 figures, he had nothing to be ashamed of, particularly when it was known that he was working with an ankle injury most of the year and had little running help to relieve some of the rushing pressure.
Born in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania, he made his fabulous reputation in the Canadian League, then broke eight records as an AFL freshman in '62 when he was voted the circuit's most valuable player. Last year he set a one-game mark for rushing (243 yards) and tied the record for touchdowns (5) as he surged late in the year to compile 979 yards for the No. 3 running rating."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

"Carlton Chester (Cookie) Gilchrist of the Buffalo Bills has been eating up yardage as a pro football back since he was 19. Just out of Brackenridge (Pennsylvania) High School, the precocious Cookie received a trial and a bonus from the Cleveland Browns.
'I was awfully green and they sent me to Canada to gain more experience,' Cookie recalls. That was back in 1954; a few years later Cleveland came up with Jimmy Brown and decided to forget about the brawny youngster they had shipped to Canada.
Meanwhile Cookie was moving from team to team and had gained the reputation of being a troublemaker.
'I enjoyed Canadian ball,' he explains, 'but I had to battle all the time for the money I felt my play rated. That's where the 'hard to handle' talk about me originated.'
Gilchrist moved from Kitchener to Hamilton to Regina and on to Toronto. On one occasion he took on the entire opposition bench. Another time he took a swing at a teammate while in a huddle.
The 6'2", 243-pound fullback signed with Buffalo in 1962. He was an unknown name to virtually all U.S. pro football fans but he didn't remain unknown for long. By the end of the season, he had gained 1,096 yards in 214 attempts, scored 15 touchdowns, kicked eight field goals and was named the most valuable player in the AFL by UPI and AP. Cookie was rewarded with a two-year contract calling for $30,000 per season.
Last year the 29-year-old Gilchrist dropped from first to third in rushing but still managed to gain 979 yards in 232 attempts and scored 14 touchdowns. It was quite a showing for a guy who played most of the season with an injured ankle and bruised ribs.
Gilchrist, who is bigger than most men who try to tackle him, admits he enjoys the rough and tumble world of pro football.
'But maybe,' he muses, 'I should learn how to juke (fake) those defenders.'"

-Bill Wise, 1964 Official Pro Football Almanac

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