Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Forgotten Superstars:Greg Cook

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with a look at the loss of a player that could have tipped the balance of power away from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970's and towards Cincinnati.
Greg Cook was that good.
What more would you expect from a player that was referred to by Bill Walsh as one that “could very well have been remembered or noted as the greatest quarterback of all time.”.
Not bad praise from someone that coached many of the best ever at the position.

Greg Cook was a hometown player having spent his college days as a Cincinnati Bearcat and was the Bengals first round pick in the 1969 draft.
Cook fired the ball downfield with abandon and won the first three games of his career before suffering the injury that would end his career-a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
Cook would miss the next three Bengals games (all losses) and would return for the rest of the season.
Cook played through the pain,making the injury worse and with surgery still unable to repair the shoulder at that time-other than a 1 game,3 pass appearance in 1973-Greg Cook's career was finished.

Greg Cook averaged over 9 yards a throw and over 17 yards a completion,both of which are still rookie records for pro football!
Considering the styles of 1969 and the current day,the fact that those records still stand are a testament to the talent of Greg Cook.
Imagine the talented Bengal teams of the mid-70's,which were already good with the excellent Ken Anderson,but instead with a Cook at the controls.
Is it possible that one or two of those Steeler super bowls do not exist?
Remember that was the age of just four teams getting into the playoffs from each conference,so considering that the Steelers and Bengals were in the same division and the Bengals could never get past Pittsburgh,maybe Cook is the difference on some occasions.

Bill Walsh always lamented the loss of Greg Cook to the game,but Greg Cook gave the game one final gift (or a pain if you prefer) with the injuries that he suffered.
Walsh was the offensive coordinator for Cincinnati and had to figure out a way to best use the replacement for Cook-the smaller and the lacking in arm strength Virgil Carter.
Walsh's answer?
Shorter passes with quick releases to check down receivers to minimize Carter's less than strong arm.
In other words-the beginning of what would become the West Coast Offense.
And it was all due to the loss of Greg Cook....

Want to collect Greg Cook cards?There are not many of them-only four.
Cook's cards were all released in 1970 and Topps never printed another Cook card,,which seemed odd that Cook was not even in the 1971 set to me.

Greg Cook passed away a few months ago and for a brief instant returned to the news page for what might have been.
And for many others-what might have not been....

Photo Credits:Unknown


Ryan H. said...

This is my favorite feature, particularly when it highlights a player than even I do not know much about.

Shawn said...

Thanks,Ryan-Glad you enjoyed it...