UC and Bengals legend Greg Cook passed away at the age of 65 in January 2012, leaving behind a unique legacy in Cincinnati sports history.
Straight outta Chillicothe, Cook starred on Homer Rice’s pass-first Bearcats teams of the late 1960s.
He earned Second Team All-American honors in 1968, passing for 3,272 yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior year, school records that stood into the 21st century.
The Bengals selected the hometown hero fifth overall in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft. From the minute he entered the league, Cook was expected to be the face of the franchise. The highly-touted rookie more than lived up to these expectations during his first year in the league.
Cook started his NFL career with a bang, leading the Bengals to a 3-0 start before injuring his shoulder against Kansas City. That injury brought Cook’s promising career to an end almost before it began.
Cook played through the pain for much of the 1969 season, throwing for 1,854 yards and 15 touchdowns in limited action. Despite his injury woes, Cook won the AFL Rookie of the Year Award and became the first legitimate star in Bengals’ history.
Unresolved shoulder injuries prevented Cook from playing during the next three NFL seasons. After a brief stint playing for the Bengals in 1973, Cook retired from professional football, leaving behind one of the great “what-if” legacies in the history of the NFL.
Today’s video vault is a moving tribute to the life of Greg Cook produced by WCPO at the time of his death.
If you are interested in delving further into Cook’s legacy, I highly recommend Matt Opper’s thoughtful analysis of Cook’s career published by Down the Drive back in January 2012.