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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Cookie Gilchrist

     (Born May 25, 1935) -- The word "colorful" doesn't begin to describe Cookie Gilchrist as a player or a person. It's a good start, though.

     Gilchrist came out of Pennsylvania and signed an illegal contract with the Cleveland Browns, so he made the jump to Canada. Eventually he played for Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Toronto in the Canadian Football League, and was an all-star at both running back at linebacker.

     In 1962, the Buffalo Bills hoped to sign Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis at running back. Davis signed with Cleveland, so the Bills added Gilchrist as a free agent as a "Plan B." He became the first 1,000-yard rusher in American Football League history in 1962, and was named the most valuable player.

     The next year, Gilchrist ran for 243 yards in a game to set a professional football record. The fullback also was a big part of the 1964 Bills' team that won a championship. However, Gilchrist sometimes clashed with Buffalo's management, and was traded to Denver for Billy Joe. He also played with Miami around the end of his career.

     In 2011, Gilchrist died in Pittsburgh. He was later diagnosed with stage four chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

--- Budd Bailey

(Know a local sports figure worth saluting in this column? Send it to me at [email protected], with his/her birthday, and I'll look into it.)

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