LB Johnie Cooks, former No. 2 overall pick, dies at 64

LB Johnie Cooks, former No. 2 overall pick, dies at 64


Oct 6, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a Indianapolis Colts helmet during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Image: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Johnie Cooks, a linebacker who starred at Mississippi State before going on to a 10-year NFL career, died on Thursday. He was 64.

“When you think of Mississippi State Football, you think of legends like Johnie Cooks,” Mississippi State head coach Zach Arnett wrote on Twitter. “The Bulldog Family lost an all-time great today. On behalf of our program, we extend our condolences to the Cooks family.”

A cause of death was not announced.

The Baltimore Colts made Cooks the No. 2 overall selection in the 1982 NFL Draft. He finished sixth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in the strike-shortened 1982 season and went on to play six-plus seasons for the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts

He spent time with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns to finish his career, playing on the Giants team that beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19 to win Super Bowl XXV

Cooks played in 128 career games, starting 97 of them, and totaled 32 sacks, five fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and four interceptions in that time.

At Mississippi State, Cooks once recorded 24 tackles in a single game against Auburn. He was named All-SEC three times and earned recognition from five All-America teams at the end of the 1981 college season. He is in the university’s athletics hall of fame.

–Field Level Media


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Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.