The UC Bearcats lost a legend with the passing of former quarterback Greg Cook.
Cook, a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969, died Jan. 27, 2012. He was 65 years old.
No. 12 was one of the top quarterbacks in school history, setting or holding 17 school records during his career. Cook's true gift was the deep strike. He averaged 17.5 yards per completion with the Bengals in '69, a standard no professional quarterback has accomplished since.
He was a Second-Team All-America selection in 1968, earning spots on the Associated Press, United Press International and Newspaper Editors Association squads.
His career at UC spanned 1966-68, and he was 332-of-655 for 4,906 yards and 34 touchdowns. He left UC as the holder of 15 outright school records and a share of two others.
Cook’s top season with the Bearcats came in 1968 when he led the NCAA in total offense and ranked second in passing. He finished 219-of-411 for 3,272 yards and 25 touchdowns and had a school-record eight-straight games passing for 250 or more yards. His 3,272 passing yards that season stood as the school standard from 1968-2002.
He threw for 554 yards against Ohio on Nov. 16, 1968, a mark that was an NCAA record at the time and still stands as the top single-game mark in UC history. Cook’s 95-yard heave to Tom Rossley against Louisville that season still tops the charts as the longest passing play in school history.
Cook was a first-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth overall pick in the 1969 American Football League draft. He led the Bengals to a 3-0 start, passed for 1,854 yards and 15 touchdowns and was named AP and UPI’s AFL Rookie of the Year. Cook averaged 9.411 yards per pass and 17.5 yards per completion, marks that still stands today.
Cook suffered a shoulder injury during his rookie season that kept him off the field for the next three seasons. He returned briefly in 1973 and then retired.
“Greg was the single most talented player we’ve ever had with the Bengals,” said Bengals president Mike Brown. “His career was tragically short due to the injury. Had he been able to stay healthy, I believe he would have been the player of his era in the NFL.
At the time the Bengals drafted Cook, general manager and head coach Paul Brown said, “We believe this young man is the best quarterback prospect in the country.”
Cook served as a radio analyst for the Bearcats during the late 1980s. Later in his career, he became an avid painter and a salesman with a Cincinnati firm that works with foundations and charities.
Cook was a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, and was a multi-sport star at Chillicothe High School. He graduated from UC in 1968, was inducted into the James Kelly Sr. UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986 and was a charter member of Nippert Stadium’s Ring of Honor in 2006.