Yesterday morning, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame announced their 2011 class. Included on the list was former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Ruben Brown. Along with that announcement came word that former Bills running back Cookie Gilchrist will join the "Pride of Western New York," a special honor for deceased athletes.
"The family is honored and excited for Cookie's induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame," Gilchrist family spokesperson Chris Garbarino told Buffalo Rumblings. "They would also like to thank the selection committee for bestowing this great honor upon him and the other inductees in this year's class."
Gilchrist died this January after a long battle with cancer. He was with the Bills during the mid-1960s, earning the AFL's Most Valuable Player award in 1962.
"Buffalo was the site of many of great personal and team accomplishments for Cookie and the early Bills teams of the 1960s," continued Garbarino. "Cookie's time with the Bills is where he felt most at home while living and working in the Buffalo community. Due to this special bond he had with the Buffalo area, his induction into the GBSHOF is seen as so much more than an award. Cookie is coming home."
Brown played for the Bills for nine years after being the team's first-round pick in 1995. He started 136 games for the Bills at left guard, earning eight consecutive Pro Bowl nods in Buffalo before finishing his career with the Chicago Bears. He was named second team All-Pro in four seasons - from 1998 to 2000, and again in 2002.
Brown and Gilchrist join fellow Buffalo Bills players Steve Christie (last year's inductee), Joe DeLamielleure, Booker Edgerson, Joe Ferguson, Jim Kelly, Jack Kemp, Paul Maguire, Andre Reed, George Saimes, Tom Sestak, Billy Shaw, O.J. Simpson, Steve Tasker, Darryl Talley, Butch Byrd, Shane Conlan, Elbert Dubenion, Kent Hull, Fred Smerlas, Bruce Smith, Mike Stratton, and Thurman Thomas in the GBSHOF. Other Bills-related inductees are coaches Lou Saban, Marv Levy, and Jim McNally, along with Ed Abromoski, Bill Polian and founder/owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. The legendary voice of the Bills, Van Miller, is also an enshrinee.
Also being enshrined in 2011 are two-time Super Bowl champ Jim Burt of Orchard Park; Curtis Aiken, basketball standout for Bennett and the University of Pittsburgh; Don Colpoys, baseball player, coach and administrator; Jim Lorentz, longtime player and broadcaster for the Sabres; Phil Mankowski, major league baseball player; Steve Mesler, bobsled gold medalist at the 2010 Olympics; and Cindy Miller, golf professional and teacher.
Three others will be posthumously enshrined with Gilchrist. They are: Lewis "Deerfoot" Bennett, a long-distance runner in the 1800s; Michael Broderick, a founder of the West Side Rowing Club; and William Morgan, credited with inventing volleyball.
"This group will join a rich heritage of native Western New Yorkers, or those who starred in and around the Queen City during their playing days, who are enshrined in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame," states the Hall of Fame website. "The 2011 class will be officially inducted in November (date to be announced) at the Buffalo Hyatt Regency."