Cookie Gilchrist - Running Back - 1954-65 - University of Kentucky
Former CFL, AFL star Cookie Gilchrist dies at 75 - National Post - Mark Masters Jan 10, 2011
Cookie Gilchrist took a handoff and started galloping down the football field. A defensive player tried to stop the 251-pound Toronto Argonauts fullback, but only succeeded in ripping off his pants.
“It didn’t bother him at all,” recalled Norm Stoneburgh, an offensive lineman who played with Gilchrist when both were on the Argos in the early 1960s. “He ran it into the end zone with no pants. He didn’t care who saw. He was running in his jock and when he hit the end zone, he walked around and held the ball up.”
Carlton Chester (Cookie) Gilchrist died on Monday from cancer at the age of 75. He played six seasons in the Canadian Football League and six more years in the American Football League; he was its player of the year in 1962 and is a member of the AFL’s all-time team.
While fullback was his main position, Gilchrist also played halfback, defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback and sometimes kicker.
“They didn’t come any better or tougher than
Cookie,” Stoneburgh said Monday. “He talked the talk and could more than back it up with his play. Cookie coined the phrase, ‘Lookie, lookie, here comes Cookie.’ It was a phrase that was true — he knew it and opposing teams felt it.”
Gilchrist, a native of Pennsylvania, played 82 games in the CFL, rushing for 4,911 yards and accumulating 1,068 receiving yards. He started his professional career with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1956 and helped lead the franchise to a Grey Cup title one year later.
“When I came to Hamilton, they traded Cookie because they said there wasn’t enough room for both of us,” former Ticats defensive lineman Angelo Mosca said. “When it comes to guys I’ve played against, he is at the top of the list.
“He was a very physical guy. His size in that era was unheard of. I can remember trying to chase him from behind and him just running over people. He was like a truck.”
Gilchrist played one season in Saskatchewan (1958) before concluding his CFL career in Toronto (1959-61). He spent the next three seasons with the Buffalo Bills — where his 31 rushing touchdowns are still third all-time in franchise history, behind Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson — then closed out his football career with two years in Denver (1965 and 1967) and one in Miami (1966).
“There was only one Cookie Gilchrist,” former Bills teammate Ed Rutkowski said in an article posted to the team website. “He was just a tremendous ball player. Pound for pound, just an incredibly gifted athlete. He had legs like a sprinter and the upper part of his body was built like a weightlifter or a boxer. He could run, he could kick and he was a vicious blocker. We used to love to watch film and see a blitzing linebacker coming to the line of scrimmage and Cookie would step up and knock the guy flat on his back.”
Gilchrist’s strong-willed nature on the field also transferred to his life away from the gridiron.
“He was an entrepreneurial guy and he always wanted people to get involved with him,” Mosca said. “Cookie always had something going. He created the first drive-in restaurant in Hamilton. It was called Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but it didn’t work.”
“He was, as Jack Kemp used to call him, a true entrepreneur,” Rutkowski said. “Cookie wanted three contracts. He wanted a contract to play offence, a contract to play defence and a contract to play special teams.”
Gilchrist turned down nomination to the CFL Hall of Fame because he was angry about how he was treated by the league. His rights were sold by the Argos to the Bills in 1962 and Gilchrist, an African American, believed racism played a part in the decision.
Gilchrist joined a group of black players who boycotted the 1965 AFL all-star game in New Orleans because they were not allowed into a bar and had difficulty getting a taxi. The game was eventually moved to another city.
excerpt Rob Malich - Toronto Argonauts website - 1996
"Chester Gilchrist was the kind of guy that would do anything for you," said former teammate Fred Black, as recounted by Gord Walker. "He'd play tackle, or defensive end, or linebacker, or fullback, or kick field goals,..."
Black could go on and on, and others like Alex Ponton and Bobby Kuntz were also there to sing the praises of Gilchrist. But where they didn't want to be was on the field opposing them.
"If I was playing linebacker, I couldn't get to sleep until about two o'clock in the morning until the teams were posted on the board," said Black, prior to some intra-squad scrimmage games in training camp. "I'd go down and find out, 'Oh, I'm playing with Cookie.' And then I'd go back to sleep like a lamb."
But there was one time Black did go up against Gilchrist.
"I remember playing linebacker and doing everything perfect, the way I'd been coached from day one," said Black. "I read my keys well, saw the guard pulling, and knew it was an off-tackle play. I'm supposed to close the off-tackle hole. I went in, straightened my legs,, straightened my back at point of contact, which you're taught to do, and all of a sudden you hear "WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!... He just ran over me."
Gilchrist spent nine years running over people in Canada, first with Sarnia and Kitchener of the ORFU, and then with Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Toronto of the CFL. He was a perennial all-star and free spirit, whose "shoot-from-the-hip" attitude wore thin with many coaches. It also hurt his many business ventures, including an electrical company called "Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie".
His best Argo season was in 1961, when he rushed for 709 yards on 105 carries, scored eight touchdowns, kicked 43 converts and five field goals. He left that year to finish his career in the new American Football League, but in 1973, was honoured as the fullback of the modern era Argo all-star team (1945-73).
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