Randall Cunningham: The Ultimate Weapon

Randall Cunningham, the Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson late 80’s and 90’s, was electric and made the quarterback position exciting. He is most known for playing on the Eagles and a bit for the Vikings, but also he played for the Ravens and Cowboys. He made moves that quarterbacks didn’t do at the time.

Cunningham started his football career off at Santa Barbara High School in California. As a senior he led his team to a League Title and to the CIF FInals. He would then commit to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He is considered one of the schools greatest players of all time as he was an All American in 1983-84 as a punter, but would also shine as at the quarterback position as he would lead UNLV to an 11-2 season. He would then have to make the decision between the USFL and NFL.

He would end up choosing the path of the NFL after the USFL folded. This would let the Philadelphia Eagles pick him up with their second round pick. In his rookie season he was the backup to the Eagles great Ron Jaworski. The two were polar opposites as Cunningham was a speedy and shifty quarterback who played the game excitingly. Where Jaworski was a leader and could hit a target much better than Cunningham. Overall due to the new head coach, Buddy Ryan, they would put Cunningham as the starter in week 10 of his second season due to a hand injury of Jaworski.

Cuningham brought a new element to not just his position on the field but to the game as a whole. In the 1987 season, the Eagles allowed him to be the official starter for the whole season. The next season was the first time that he was truly becoming one of the great quarterbacks in the league at that time. He was the starting quarterback for the NFC team in the Pro Bowl, as well as that making him the first ever African American to receive that role as well. He also was able to win game MVP in the game as well. That same year he, along with some other great players like Reggie White and Chris Carter, helped the Eagles get to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. 

The next year, Cunningham did two really unique things in that season. The first one would be that he had broken the teams record of 62 passing attempts, which is now shared with Nick Foles. He also had a 91 yard punt during a game against the Giants. Which to this day is still the fourth longest ever. The crazy thing about that though is that his official position isn’t even punter. Although at UNLV he played both of the two positions. In the NFL he is listed as a quarterback. The year after, he would rush for 942 yards, which to this day is third all time for his position.

In 1991 something tragic would happen to Cunningham. In a game against the Packers, he was tackled and would end up tearing his ACL. He would return however the next season, but the way he played the game would not come back with him. He wasn’t this exciting, athletic, and speedy player that we used to see. He didn’t have that factor of the game that he once had. After having a rough few seasons he would announce his retirement. He would retire with the third most rushing yards in Eagles history at the time. He also was only second all time in passing yards, behind none other than Ron Jaworski.

After taking a year off of football, Cunningham had a reconsideration and decided to join the league again. He was signed to the Minnesota Vikings where he was paired up with his former star wide receiver Chris Carter. In the 1998 season Cunningham would have one of the best seasons that he would ever play. The Vikings would go a historic 15-1 as he would throw just over 3,700 yards. He had a new rookie weapon that year as well as Randy Moss would join the team after being drafted giving Cunningham some pretty great targets to look for. The team was great and made it all the way to the Conference Championship, but would fall short to the Atlanta Falcons after they hit a game winning field goal. Prior to the 2000 season the team announced that Dante Caulpepper would be the teams starting quarterback and Cunningham would be cut from the Vikings.

Just before the start of the 2000 season, the Dallas Cowboys decided to pick up Cunnignham as a backup to serve for Cowboy legend Troy Aikman. Aikman had gained several concussions which would overall put an end to his career. He became the team’s starter and would put up solid numbers. He did get a chance to play in a memorable game that would go into overtime as Cunningham would get to go up against McNabb. He would be cut again after the Cowboys would have a rough 5-11 season.

Randall Cunningham’s final team would come as he would get a chance to play for the Baltimore Ravens. He was initially a part of the team to just serve as the team’s third string quarterback. But he went 2-0 as the teams starter when he got the chances to play. His time was cut short and he would not be re-signed to the team. On August 15, 2002, Cunningham decided to call it quits on his career as he would sign a one-day contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Cunningham was able to have an incredible career as a football player. He gave the league many electric plays and exciting moments. He was a 4x Pro Bowler, 2x First-Team All Pro, the league passer rating leader, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and a Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer, as well as College Football Hall of Famer. Overall he was able to have an insane NFL career and brought a whole new aspect to the game of football.