He retired in 1972, and the NFL Network named him the league’s best one-shot wonder in a show produced in 2008 (Ickey Woods also made the list).
On that show, legendary Bengals tight end Bob Trumpy lamented his hands would probably be covered in Super Bowl rings if Cook hadn’t gotten hurt.
Bill Walsh once said Cook could have been the best quarterback in NFL history if he had stayed health, and the loss of Cook was a major factor in Walsh’s development of what came to be known as the West Coast Offense.
Without the gifted Cook, Walsh had to tailor his attack around the Virgil Carter, who lacked Cook’s arm strength but could execute the short, quick, precision passes.
Those came to define the offense, which Walsh made famous with the 49ers after Paul Brown passed over him when he was hiring a replacement as Bengals head coach.
But that’s a whole different, “What might have been…”
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