2. Cookie Gilchrist
While I wasn’t around to see Cookie Gilchrist play, I’ve always been told how special Gilchrist was. While Gilchrist’s tenure was short with the Bills (1962-1964), he certainly made his mark with the team. Gilchrist had 676 rushing attempts in his three seasons with the Bills and ran for a total of 3,056 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Gilchrist could also be counted on as a receiver. He had 78 receptions for 875 yards and four touchdowns.
Buffalo’s star rusher made the Pro Bowl in all three seasons with the Bills and led the AFL in rushing in both 1962 and 1964. Gilchrist also led the AFL in rushing touchdowns in all three seasons with the Bills.
There is no doubt that Gilchrist played a big part in Buffalo winning the AFL Championship in 1964.
Former Bills punter/linebacker and ESPN Sunday Night Football brodcaster Paul Maguire, who was a teammate of Gilchrist on the 1964 Bills, described how determined Gilchrist was to make the 1964 championship game in a 2011 interview with ESPN.
Buffalo had to defeat the Boston Patriots to reach and host the championship game. At Fenway Park, Gilchrist said the following to his teammates:
“Cookie stood up,” Maguire recalled to ESPN’s Tim Graham, “and said ‘I’m going to tell you something. If we don’t win this game, I’m going to beat the s— out of everybody in this locker room.’ “
Maguire also mentioned that Gilchrist went as far as to threaten the aforementioned coach Saban:
“Cookie pointed and said, ‘And I’m going to start with you, Coach. I’m going to kick your ass first.’ I just sat back in my locker. I knew he meant it.”
In the aforementioned ESPN article, Gilchrist’s strained relationship with owner Ralph Wilson Jr. was mentioned:
Those familiar with the selection process claim Wilson has long refused to consider Gilchrist for the team’s Wall of Fame. Gilchrist and Wilson didn’t mend their fractured relationship until a phone conversation (the week before his death), Thomas Gilchrist said.
The last line of the quote gives me hope that one day Gilchrist will be selected as a member of Buffalo’s Wall of Fame. Gilchrist, who passed away in 2011, is more than deserving of the honor.
1. Cornelius Bennett
I’m truly not sure how the Wall of Fame voting process works, but it’s an absolute travesty that Cornelius Bennett is not already included on the team’s wall.
Look at the key members of Buffalo’s four Super Bowl teams: they are all on the wall besides Bennett. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Steve Tasker? Check, check, check and check. Jim Ritcher and Kent Hull? Both there. Bruce Smith and Darryl Talley are both there. Head coach Marv Levy was inducted in 1996 and general manager Bill Polian was added in 2012.
Phil Hansen, for crying out loud, was added to the Wall of Fame in 2011. Hansen had a very underrated career with the Bills at defensive end, but Bennett was a superstar linebacker for the Bills during their Super Bowl runs.
In his nine seasons with Buffalo, Bennett played in 129 games, starting in 128 of them. He accumulated 52.5 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown. He had 751 tackles and 42 assisted tackles with the Bills.
Bennett was an All-Pro in 1988 and had five Pro Bowl appearances (1988, 1990-1993) for the Bills.
Affectionately known as “Biscuit,” Bennett was one of the key defensive players for the Bills during their years of AFC dominance, and should be honored as such.
Whenever the next induction to the Bills Wall of Fame takes place, hopefully one of these deserving candidates will be honored by the team.