In an era of powerful running backs, Cookie Gilchrist was widely admired as one of the American Football League’s best backs. Gilchrist, a hard-nosed fullback, posed the first-ever 1,000-yard season in the AFL as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
During halftime ceremonies of Sunday’s showdown between former AFL rivals, the Bills and Oakland Raiders, Gilchrist’s memory was honored with a spot on the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame as he was posthumously honored before a sold-out crowd at New Era Field.
Gilchrist’s powerful running style helped the Bills win the 1964 American Football League championship, the first of back-to-back league titles. Gilchrist’s bruising running style produced 122 yards during a 20-7 win over the San Diego Chargers in the 1964 AFL championship game, the team’s first-ever AFL title.
Gilchrist, who became the 31st member of the Bills Wall of Fame, was the first rusher to surpass 1,000 yards in a season with his 1,096-yard effort in 1962. After amassing 15 total touchdowns and more than 1,400 all-purpose yards of offense, Gilchrist was named the American Football League’s Most Valuable Player in 1962.
He led the fledgling league in rushing yards in 1962 (1,096) and 1964 (981), and led the AFL in rushing touchdowns in 1962 (13) and 1963 (12).
“It’s a good feeling,” Gilchrist’s son, Marcus Gilchrist, told Chris Brown prior to the game. “It’s more like a full circle thing for my family with my dad. I think he would’ve liked it.”
Gilchrist’s career in Western New York started in 1962, following a successful five-year career north of the border in the Canadian Football League.
In three seasons with Buffalo, Gilchrist rushed for 3,056 yards with 31 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per rush. He added 875 receiving yards on 78 receptions with four touchdowns.