|Date of birth:||April 26, 1941|
|Place of birth:||Montclair, New Jersey|
|Height:||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight:||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school:||Glen Ridge (NJ)|
|Career NFL statistics|
Gary Samuel Cuozzo (born April 26, 1941) is a former professional American football player. An undrafted quarterback from the University of Virginia, Cuozzo played in 10 NFL seasons from 1963 to 1972. He began his NFL career on the Baltimore Colts as a backup to Johnny Unitas. When Unitas was injured in 1965, Cuozzo replaced him until getting sidelined by injury as well.
He was traded to the expansion team New Orleans Saints in 1967, where he was the first starting quarterback in the franchise's history. However, the trade was disastrous for New Orleans, which gave away the first overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft to the Colts, who used it to select Michigan State All-American Bubba Smith, who became an All-Pro and was Baltimore's starting left defensive end in Super Bowl III and V.
After losing the Saints' starting job later in 1967 to Billy Kilmer, he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. He became the Vikings' starting quarterback in 1970 when Joe Kapp, the team's Most Valuable Player in 1969, held out and was traded to the Boston Patriots. Cuozzo was named NFC Player of the Week for leading the Vikings to a 27-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of Super Bowl IV in the season opener.
The 1970 Vikings posted the NFL's best regular season record at 12-2, but lost in an NFC Divisional playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers at home. In 1971, Cuozzo could not hold on to his starting job, sharing duties with Norm Snead and Bob Lee. The Vikings went 11-3 in the regular season and lost in the divisional playoffs at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys.
After four years in Minnesota, Cuozzo was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972 in the deal which sent fleet wide receiver John Gilliam to the Vikings. Cuozzo was part of a chaotic four-quarterback rotation with Jim Hart, Pete Beathard, and Tim Van Galder in 1972, but when Don Coryell took over as Cardinals coach in 1973, he named Hart the undisputed starter, and he would hold the job into the 1980s.
In 1990, his oldest son Gary Jr., a/k/a Chip, was murdered in Miami during a drug deal, and Cuozzo gave talks to teens about avoiding drugs. He served as national chairman of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from 1995 to 1998.
- "Saints grab Gary Cuozzo in trade with Baltimore". Lawrence Journal-World. Kansas. March 7, 1967. p. 11.
- "Vikings get Gary Cuozzo in key trade". Gettysburg Times. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. January 30, 1968. p. 5.
- "Vikes trade Cuozzo". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. April 27, 1972. p. 38.
- Richard Deutsch, "Gary Cuozzo, Saints Quarterback", Sports Illustrated, July 12, 1999.
- Gary Cuozzo player profile, database Football. Accessed August 27, 2007.
- Klingaman, Mike. "Catching Up With...former Colt Gary Cuozzo," The Baltimore Sun, Tuesday, September 29, 2009.
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • Pro-Football-Reference • Databasefootball.com