Greg Cook, QB (1969)
Fast forward one year and Cincy drafted a quarterback to hopefully lead this new team to success. Bill Walsh was the assistant coach and he is considered the father of the West Coast offense and really shaping the game into what it would look like in the modern day.
He drafted Cook and believed he could be a great player. According to Andy Pollin of Fansided:
"Walsh, who would later coach Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young, told NFL Films he believed Cook, “could very well have been remembered or noted as the greatest quarterback of all time.” He described Cook as having the strength of Terry Bradshaw with the instincts and feel of Montana"- Andy Pollin
Cook’s rookie stats are not spectacular compared to the modern day but he gave the Bengals life and was an electric player with an accurate cannon for an arm. He was voted AFL Offensive Player of the Year. However, in the third game of his rookie season, he felt a pop in his right shoulder after a tackle.
That pop was a torn rotator cuff which would go undiagnosed and he would play through the pain being drugged with cortisone shots. Because he played so many games on the torn rotator cuff and he also had a torn muscle in his bicep, there was too much deterioration and he was unable to play again.
He attempted a comeback in 1973, but that was unsuccessful. It’s crazy to think how things could’ve been different if they had the advances in medicine we do now. Greg Cook could’ve become one of the greats.