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Cookie Gilchrist from the audio archives

Pete Weber, play-by-play broadcaster for the NHL's Nashville Predators and former Buffalo sports personality, provided the following archived audio clip from a Cookie Gilchrist interview with Barry Halper in the War Memorial Stadium locker room after the 1964 AFL title game:

Merriman gets good guarantee

The details of the contract extension signed by linebacker Shawne Merriman with the Bills show that Merriman is expected to get more guaranteed money than originally reported.

The contract includes a $1.5 million signing bonus and $3 million in base salary in 2011 that is guaranteed -- as long as his injury from the 2010 season doesn't keep him off the field.

The deal breaks down like this: Because he signed before the end of the 2010 season, the Bills get to amortize his $1.5 million bonus over three seasons - 2010, 2011 and 2012. That's a benefit to the Bills. He gets a base salary of $2.75 million in 2011. He gets a reporting bonus of $500,000 and a workout bonus of $500,000 this year. Undoubtedly he's going to get those two bonuses.

His base salary in 2012 is $4 million, $3 million of which is guaranteed "with exception for 2010 injury."  We're not sure of the exact language of the contract on that exception. As long as he hits the field in 2010, the presumption is he gets it. We originally reported that he was expected to $2.5 million guaranteed. Merriman would get a $1 million roster bonus in March of 2012 and a $250,000 workout bonus in 2012. The deal also includes $4 million in incentive bonuses in 2011 and 2012 that are tied to playing time and sack totals.

As long as he recovers from his Achilles tendon injury and is on the roster for the start of the 2011 season, he's going to get $8.25 million from the Bills.

---Mark Gaughan



Cookie Gilchrist is dead

Former Buffalo Bills great running back Cookie Gilchrist died early today in an assisted living facility in Pittsburgh, his nephew, Thomas Gilchrist, confirmed this morning.

Gilchrist had been in the hospital since September battling cancer, which had spread through his body. He was 75.

Gilchrist was one of the greatest Bills players ever. He played in Buffalo for three seasons, from 1962 to 1964. He was a star on the Bills' 1964 AFL Championship team. Gilchrist gained 3,056 rushing yards with 31 rushing touchdowns for Buffalo. He set a pro football single-game rushing record with 243 yards in a game against the New York Titans in 1962. He made first-team All-AFL in 1962, '64 and '65, and he was on the second-team in '63. He played for Denver in 1965 and '67 and Miami in '66.

Before joining the Bills, Gilchrist was one of the greatest players in the history of the Canadian Football League, where he played for six years. Gilchrist's nephew, Thomas Gilchrist, said today condolences can be sent, care of Cookie Gilchrist, to 322 Mall Blvd. Suite 164, Monroeville, Pa., 15146.

Cookie's advice to a young reporter: "Don't ever apologize."

News Sports Reporter Milt Northrop remembers Cookie Gilchrist:

Mark Gaughan remembers Cookie Gilchrist:

---Mark Gaughan

Reed a HOF finalist

Bills great receiver Andre Reed was named as one of 15 modern-era finalists for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is the fifth straight year in which Reed has made the finals. He is one of three receivers in the final group, with former Minnesota great Cris Carter and former Raiders great Tim Brown.

---Mark Gaughan

Cross gets the ax

It didn't take Bills coach Chan Gailey long to shake up his staff. Six days after the season finale, Gailey dismissed inside linebackers coach Demontie Cross.

Cross was one of three assistants Gailey retained from the Dick Jauron regime. Cross just completed his fifth season with the Bills. He joined the team as a defensive assistant/special teams in 2006 before spending the next three years as an assistant linebackers and assistant special teams coach.

Gailey did not give a reason for Cross' firing. The Bills finished in the bottom eight of the NFL in defense and were dead last against the run.

---Allen Wilson

Gailey keeping options open

Bills coach Chan Gailey acknowledged on the radio Thursday that the team is going to consider all its options, including quarterback, with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. That's no surprise. Gailey stressed the team has to act in the organization's best long-term interests.

“No I wouldn’t say that at all," Gailey said, when asked on WEDG if a QB at No. 3 is not a consideration. "What has got to happen is you’ve got to understand that I think Fitz is a really good quarterback and I think he can take our team to the playoffs. But if you’ve got a chance to get a guy that you think for 10 years, 12 years, is going to be the guy, Fitz is moving on up in years, too. How many years do you expect us to draft No. 3 and be able to get a guy like that, Even if you put him under wraps for a year or two while you’re grooming him? You have to consider that. We’re not in here thinking about just short term, next year, what can we do for the Buffalo Bills? Buddy and I are committed to the long-term success of the Buffalo Bills."

---Mark Gaughan

Bills release Cross

The Bills announced they have released inside linebackers coach DeMontie Cross. Cross was one of the few holdovers from the Dick Jauron staff that was retained by Chan Gailey. Cross joned the Bills as a defensive assistant with Jauron in 2006. He was assistant linebackers coach from 2007 to 2009. Bob Sanders is the Bills' outside linebackers coach.

---Mark Gaughan

Gabbert's stock rises?

Now that Andrew Luck is going back to college, there is sure to be wide disagreement on the quarterback class for the 2011 NFL Draft. Numerous draft speculation has the stock of Missouri Blaine Gabbert rising and he's being touted as the top QB in the draft. He has classic size, but it's hard to see his play on the field justifying a top-10 pick in the draft. Gabbert played in the ultimate pass-happy offense, throwing 475 passes this year. That was 64 more than Arkansas' Ryan Mallett threw, and Mallett was in a pass-happy offense. And it was almost double the attempts that Auburn's Cam Newton had (246). ... Yet Gabbert had 16 TD passes, half of Mallett's total. Gabbert had 16 TDs and 9 INTs. Mallett had 32 TDs, 12 INTs. Newton had 28 TDs, 6 INTs. Gabbert did not look good against the best Big 12 defense he faced, Nebraska. Top 10? I didn't see it on the field.

---Mark Gaughan


Sparano hamstrung?

The Miami Dolphins are keeping head coach Tony Sparano, but they are expected to lose offensive coordinator Dan Henning, who is likely to retire from his post. This creates a big problem for Sparano in finding a replacement, becuase it's obvious he's on thin ice. A new coordinator is looking at the prospect of a one-and-done tenure. So how does Sparano find a good candidate, given the fact Miami has an unpromising quarterback (Chad Henne)? This will be something to watch in the coming weeks. One way around the problem might be to overpay someone to do the job. That's something new owner Stephen Ross probably would be willing to do.

---Mark Gaughan

Kyle Williams going to Hawaii

Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams has been added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster. It will be Williams' first trip to the Pro Bowl in his five-year career.

“Whether I made it first ballot or first alternate, it was going to be kind of a bittersweet deal because of the way our year had gone, but it’s not a bad consolation prize," said Williams, speaking from his offseason home in Louisiana. “I’m excited to go and represent our organization and my teammates and our fans, and obviously my family."

Williams led the Bills in sacks with 5.5 and was second in the NFL in tackles among DTs, according to

He takes the spot of Oakland's Richard Seymour, who backed out due to an injury. Baltimore's Haloti Ngata and New England's Vince Wilfork are the two DT starters for the AFC.

“Obviously, you don’t go out and play for awards, you play to win," Williams said. “When things like that don’t happen, sometimes you get disappointed, you get discouraged. But I take away the fact that we had a bad year but I get recognized for playing well."

---Mark Gaughan

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