On January 7, 2015, Senior Airman Eli Cook passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident one week prior. He was 22 years old. This feature is dedicated to Eli’s memory, his family, and all those close to him.
The middle brother of eight children, Eli Cook was born into a Minnesota Vikings family on Sept. 11, 1992; his father Wayne says that Eli was a Vikings fan from Day One.
“Dad was always watching sports,” explained Eli’s brother Andrew, “and we would always watch with him.”
Eli especially enjoyed watching the Timberwolves and Vikings, and they soon became his favorite of Minnesota’s sports teams. He gained a reputation of being the most athletic in the family, and he often stood out because of his speed. As a middle- and junior-high school student, Eli played quarterback for his team in Wilmar, MN.
Like most sports fans, Eli had a competitive spirit both on and off the field. Friendly competition regularly brewed between the brothers at home, and that passionate edge also came into play when cheering for—and defending—their hometown team.
Being a member of the U.S. Air Force, Eli relocated outside of Minnesota and worked with men and women from all over the country. Wherever he was, though, he was quick to talk up the Vikings. An Air Force friend shared that Eli was a “hardcore trash talker,” constantly ribbing friends who supported rival teams. He was also known for always wearing his Chad Greenway jersey. Eli’s father explained that Eli chose the No. 52 jersey because he worked on a B52 airplane—something he was incredibly proud of. “That plane was his baby,” Andrew said.
Eli’s love for the purple and gold spoke strongly to his character, as Andrew described:
“When Eli left for the Air Force and lived in Texas and Louisiana, he embraced Minnesota sports even more than before—it was a source of pride for his home state. […] Eli had a lot of pride and showed a lot of passion for everything that he did and believed in—whether it was his Air Force career, friends and family, faith, or his roots.”
Amidst several personality differences that can only be expected between siblings, sports always brought the Cook family together. Some of the most treasured memories include those times of watching, talking about and playing sports together.