John Zook, a defensive end who spent time with the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Cardinals, died on Saturday morning, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was 72 years old. Zook died in Kansas, which is where he was born and raised. According to his brother, Dean, Zook was fighting a long battle with cancer before his death.
Zook started his career with the Falcons but was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round in 1969. He was then traded to the Philadelphia Eagles before being sent to the Falcons where he became a standout player. Because sacks weren't an official NFL stat during Zook's time, there's no official record of his sack total. However, he was named to the Pro Bowl in 1973 and was also selected to the All-Pro Second Team that year. Zook was also a Second Team All-NFC selection in 1972 and 1973. He recorded three interceptions in his first two seasons and he's known for recorded the Falcons' first safety in 1971. In 1976, Zook was traded to the Cardinals, which is where he would finish his career.
A hard-nosed defensive end who began his NFL career in Atlanta.
Rest in peace, John Zook.
(AP/Messerschmidt) pic.twitter.com/tXjFdfZeb6— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 8, 2020
Zook was able to play with Falcons legend Claude Humphrey who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. "The most fun I had the whole time I played football was the time John and I had that (1973) season when we were both selected to the Pro Bowl," Humphrey said to the AJC Sunday. "We had it down pat, man, I tell you. We figured out we were better together than we were individually." Humprey would go to said he got along with Zook "better than I've been able to get along with anybody." He revealed the reason for that could be both had to work hard to get where we were going."
The AJC said Zook ended his cancer treatment at the start of the year. Dean revealed Zook passed out his old game balls and other memorabilia to his nieces and nephews during a party in January. Also, a group of Falcons teammates got together on a Zoom call on Friday to say their goodbyes.