Detroit Lions Photo

Washington State and Detroit receiving legend Gail Cogdill passes away

GAIL COGDILL, a Spokane legend and one of the all-time great receivers at Washington State and with the Detroit Lions, has died, the Detroit Free Press and Spokesman-Review report. He was 79.

Cogdill was a record-setting receiver at WSU from 1957-59 under coach Jim Sutherland, who was one of the pioneers of the modern passing game. As a junior on a 7-3 WSU team, he set an NCAA single-game record with 252 receiving yards on seven receptions against Northwester; video highlights from that game, with Keith Jackson on the call, can be found here:

WSU at Northwestern 1958 

Cogdill, from Lewis & Clark High, was part of a trio of spectacular receivers from Spokane who played for the Cougars in the late 50s. All three — Cogdill, Don Ellingsen and Jack Fanning — are in the WSU Hall of Fame.

Cogdill was drafted in the sixth round (No. 63 overall) by the Lions in 1960 and went on to become NFL Rookie of the Year. Along with Herman Moore and Calvin Johnson, he is considered one of the three  best receivers in Lions history. With the Baltimore Colts in 1969, he became the first Cougar to play in a Super Bowl (III vs. the Jets).

“It was an honor to have played with Gail and I learned a lot from him," former Lions receiver and punter Pat Studstill told the Detroit Free Press in this story. "I used to watch him like a hawk, how he came off the line of scrimmage, the way he ran his out patterns, everything. He had such great hands and was strong as an ox and I don’t believe there was a better athlete on the team. He was so good that he often was double covered and I was the beneficiary of that. Gail was nice to everyone, his teammates, and the fans and I will miss him.”

Cogdill suffered from dementia in recent years, his family said. They will donate his brain and brain stem to Boston University for its concussion study, the S-R reports. A memorial service will be held sometime in November at the Heritage Funeral Home in Spokane.

RELATED STORY: Spokane’s steady football pipeline to WSU

Cougfan Top Stories