He joined the fledging AFL in 1962 and played for the Bills. In 1962, Gilchrist rushed for 1,096 yards and 13 TDs in 214 attempts for a whopping 5.1 yard average per carry and was named the AFL player of the year.He became the league’s first 1000-yard rusher and took home the MVP. In 1964, he led the Bills to their only title, beating the San Diego Chargers 20-7. He also took three AFL rushing titles. Although he only played for the Bills for three years (62-64), he is still the third leading rusher in Bills history. Chester Carlton “Cookie” Gilchrist was, along with San Diego’s Lance Alworth, the American Football League’s first super star.
In his only 3 seasons and 42 games in a Buffalo Bill uniform, Gilchrist gained 4,031 yards from scrimmage (3,056 rush, 975 rec) and scored 35 touchdowns, with 29 TDs coming in his first 28 games! His temper led to a feud with head coach Lou Saban. Even though the Bills went on to claim their first AFL Championship vs San Diego, Gilchrist and Saban’s rift could not be mended. Cookie was traded to the Broncos in the off season. One could only wonder what dynasty the Bills could have built with Gilchrist had he stayed in Buffalo. He played for the Denver Broncos in 1965 and 1967 and for Miami in 1966. He was selected as fullback for the all-time AFL team.
“The Bills were very lucky to have procured the services of Cookie Gilchrist, who was one of the greatest fullbacks I have ever seen in all of my years in professional football,” said Ralph Wilson, the 92-year-old Buffalo owner.
Before there was Cassius Clay fighting for rights and the black man, there was Cookie Gilchrist. Larry Fesler, who covered the Buffalo Bills from the AFL beginnings up until 2007, called Gilchrist the best all-around football player that he ever saw. And he’s seen the likes of Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas.
Cookie Gilchrist Remembers (2004)
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