CINCINNATI - Former Cincinnati Bengals and UC Bearcats legend Greg Cook has died.
Cook was admitted to an area hospital for treatment of pneumonia Thursday evening. Due to serious pre-existing conditions, he did not respond to treatment and passed away.
He was 65.
A source close to the former University of Cincinnati and Bengals quarterback was in the intensive care unit after his health took a turn for the worse Thursday night. His family had gathered Thursday to keep vigil.
Cook set dozens of passing and offensive records at UC before being drafted by the Bengals in 1969 by head coach Paul Brown. Cook won the AFL passing title that year, but his career was cut short by injuries.
Cook first bedazzled Cincinnati on an August day in 1968. That’s when a new crop of football student managers got their first glimpse of UC football and its centerpiece, senior quarterback Greg Cook.
He made an impression. We typically hoped for third and long so offensive coordinator Leeman Bennett would be forced to call a pass, unleashing Cook's brilliance. As we watched his record setting senior season unfold, we eagerly anticipated his being drafted into the NFL.
Which came to pass in the first round of the 1969 proceeding, the fifth player picked overall.
His impact has been well documented. Behind a patchwork offensive line, the blonde bomber from Chillicothe, Ohio completed 106 of 197 pass attempts for 1854 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Nearly 10 yards per attempt and just under 6 yards per carry when he opted to run.
Twenty-nine sacks though took their toll. A damaged shoulder, aggravated during an off season basketball game, essentially ended his career. He completed one more regular season pass, four years later in 1973.
Greg handled the disappointment of a truncated career with his typical grace. He immersed himself in his art, which he honed in the School of Design, Art and Architecture at UC. He was an accomplished chef and baker; his cheesecake recipe was to die for.
Many of those who'd witnessed his athletic rise and fall always felt he'd been cheated. The thought never crossed his mind. Never once heard him whine about the rotten hand he'd been dealt. But in recent years, medical issues, some self induced, contributed to an overall physical deterioration.
And his latest shunt with ill health got the best of him. Our best wishes to the family of a one of a kind person, who was also a truly unique athlete.
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