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At age 65 of pneumonia, former Bengals quarterback Greg Cook. A second-team All America at Cincinnati before the Bengals took him with the fifth pick in the 1969 AFL/NFL common draft, Cook (above) showed considerable promise in accumulating a 3--0 record in his first three starts. He threw for 1,854 yards and 15 touchdowns that rookie season, averaging 17.5 yards per completion and 9.41 per attempt (both still team records) in 11 games. But an undiagnosed torn rotator cuff, suffered midseason, quickly deteriorated, and surgery could not put him right. He remained with the team through '73, undergoing multiple operations, but played in only one more game. Following retirement, Cook, an art major in college, devoted more time to painting.
| DIED |
At age 85 of a heart attack, longtime SI writer Bil Gilbert. A renowned nature author whose wildlife stories appeared in Esquire, The New York Times, LIFE, TIME and The Washington Post, Gilbert (below) estimated at one point that he spent 40 days per year living outdoors; he even wrote a book—his first of 10—entitled How Animals Communicate. But he became best known by venturing beyond the wild kingdom, first in 1969 with a three-part series that represented SI's first substantial investigation into the use of steroids in sports, and later, in '73, with a series on women's sports, which helped build support for Title IX and won SI its first American Society of Magazine Editors award.
| DIED |
At age 86, Joseph Mattioli, the founder and owner of Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. Having begun his career as a dentist—hence his nickname, Doc—Mattioli turned to investing, and in 1960 loaned a group of racetrack partners $300,000 to purchase and build on a former spinach farm. When that project nearly went bankrupt, Mattioli bought the partners out. Today, his facility—the only family-owned racetrack on the Sprint Cup Series schedule—seats some 76,000 around a 2.5-mile triangular track and hosts two NASCAR weekends annually.
| DIAGNOSED |
With a previously undetected neck injury, Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who has missed all but eight NHL games since Jan. 5, 2011, with concussion-related symptoms. The Pittsburgh captain made a triumphant return to the ice after an absence of more than 10 months on Nov. 21, scoring two goals in a 5--0 win over the Islanders, but was sidelined two weeks later when he took an accidental elbow to the head from Bruins center David Krejci. Crosby consulted last month in Los Angeles with neurological spine specialist Dr. Robert Bray, who found that the Pens' star had suffered an unspecified neck injury in addition to a concussion. (Bray did not say when the neck injury, which has fully healed, occurred.) Crosby told reporters last month that he was still experiencing headaches and motion problems. He has been cleared by doctors for light exercise, but there is no timetable for his return.
| DIED |
At age 72 following a 15-year battle with lymphocytic leukemia, former middleweight fighter Don Fullmer. The youngest of three boxing brothers—including Gene, who won a world middleweight title in 1957, and Jay, whose career was cut short by an eye injury—Fullmer (right) fought nine world champions in his 79 bouts (54-20-5) and came within one fight of the middleweight title in a '68 rematch with Nino Benvenuti, who had beaten him two years before. In the latter bout Fullmer knocked his opponent down but lost a 15-round unanimous decision. After retiring in '73, following a 16-year career, Fullmer stayed involved in the sport as a referee and a coach. Along with Gene and Jay he also opened the Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym in South Jordan, Utah, and campaigned hard to bring the National Golden Gloves tournament to his home state in 2013.