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 Super Bowl V.
After losing the Saints' starting job later in 1967 to
Billy Kilmer, he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. After four years in Minnesota, Cuozzo was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972, retiring the following year. He moved to Middletown Township, New Jersey to start an orthodontics practice.
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. [1 ]
Cuozzo played high school football at
Glen Ridge High School in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. [2 ]
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