Before Gronk, before Ben Coates, there was, briefly, Marv Cook.
The Patriots drafted Cook in the third round out of Iowa in 1989. In 1991 he was the favorite target of Hugh Millen, catching 82 balls for 808 yards on his way to being first team All-Pro. The team had gone 1-15 the year before and would go 2-14 the year after, so the six wins put up by the 1991 Patriots were almost like having a real team. The team was fairly competitive even in games they lost, and the schedule included a heart-stopping last-second win over a dominant Oilers team led by peak Warren Moon.
Yeah, we used to get excited about that stuff, before we turned up our noses at 12-win seasons and playoff appearances where the team had to actually play in the first round. That 1991 team was fun to watch, with Coach MacPherson hugging random people and QB Millen making chicken soup out of a dreadful roster and Marv Cook catching everything. Six wins, and we loved it. We watched the Pro Bowl just to see number 85 playing among the league’s best.
Cook went to two Pro Bowls, but then the magic dust ran out. Parcells and Bledsoe and Kraft showed up, (Cook did catch 22 balls from Drew in 93) Cook did a little time in Chicago and St. Louis, then he was done. He’s actually become a very successful high school football coach in his home state of Iowa, where his team won seven straight state titles from 2010-16. We forget about Marvelous Marv with all the success - and the better tight ends - we’ve seen in Foxboro since those days. We shouldn’t. I can still remember when he was all we had.