Jack Kent Cooke was born October 25, 1912 in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. At age 14 Cooke sold encyclopedias door-to-door. He gave his mom more than 20 dollars his first day and later said, “I think that was the proudest moment of my life.” This man was a natural born winner who “earned his hard stripes” and had the ability to find winners. He gave Sparky Anderson, Joe Gibbs and Jerry West their first head coaching jobs. All three are Hall of Famers. Look them up if you do not know who they are. They are great coaches in baseball, football, and basketball respectively.
Jack Kent Cooke knew Joe Gibbs was a winner. He knew Gibbs had the intelligence and experience as assistant coach to Don “Air” Coryell, and he knew Joe Gibbs was honest and had high moral character. He could have hired anybody, but he had faith in Gibbs. How many owners today would have the patience to keep a head coach who lost his first 5 NFL games? The negative press asked him about Gibbs’ job security as the Redskins Head Coach and he stood by Gibbs. Cooke boldly said the Washington Redskins would finish 8 and 8. Of course the press was skeptical, but just as Cooke had predicted, the Joe Gibbs led Redskins finished 8 and 8. Then they won 3 of 4 Super Bowls.
Jack Kent Cooke also owned the NBA Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Wolves of the United Soccer Association. He developed the Forum in Inglewood, California and the stadium we now know as FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. In my opinion, Jack Kent Cooke was the best owner in the NFL. He did not meddle in football affairs and cooperated with General Manager Bobby Beathard and Head Coach Joe Gibbs. He trusted them because they had the leadership and experience to build winning teams. You can research Jack Kent Cooke to see all of his accomplishments including being a winning horse owner, successful radio announcer and owner of professional sports teams.
Cooke also gave back to the community. He established the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Most of his inheritance, about $825 million, went to his foundation “to help young people of exceptional promise reach their potential through education.”
Jack Kent Cooke was born a Canadian, but he came to love the United States of America. US President Dwight David Eisenhower waived the 5-year wait so Cooke could become a US citizen early.
Cooke was married five times, twice to the same woman. I will just say he was a colorful, interesting and exceptional person. Being a faithful Redskins fan since 1969 and appreciating all that Jack Kent Cooke accomplished, I will not go into any negative details of his personal life. If one wants to know about all that, use the search engines on the internet. HAIL Jack Kent Cooke, Ring of Honor and Redskins owner – gone but never forgotten.
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