ATLANTA – John Zook, who partnered with Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey to give the Atlanta Falcons a dynamic combination at defensive end, is dead. He was 72 years old.
His brother, Dean Zook, confirmed the death to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The former player died Saturday in his home state of Kansas after a long battle with cancer.
Originally a fourth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams out of Kansas, Zook liquidated in Atlanta after a few trades, first to Philadelphia and then to the Falcons.
Zook was with Atlanta from 1969 to ’75, where he stood up on the right while Humphrey held the left side. The team had little success with only two winning seasons and no playoff appearances during that time, but the duo was recognized as one of the team̵
Zook never missed a game during his time with the Falcons, starting 97 of 98 contests. He made his only Pro Bowl appearance in 1973, joining Humphrey in the all-star game.
“The funniest thing I had the whole time playing football was the time John and I had the season when we were both selected for the Pro Bowl,” Humphrey told the Atlanta newspaper. “We figured we were better together than we were individually.”
Zook was extradited to St. Louis in 1976, where he spent his last four seasons with the Cardinals.
He played 144 games with 134 starts.
Zook had four career appearances, notably noting the first safety in Falcon’s history in 1971.
He grew up in Larned, Kansas.