I think we all need at least one
really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single
day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something
simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may
be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to
aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll
be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you
readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will
get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with
you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun
things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
By David Oliver: Author Page
What I’m Thankful For
After gorging on four straight days of football, I’m reminded of the guy who got me started in being a huge football fan for most of my life: former quarterback Randall Cunningham. The mid-’80s wasn’t too bad a time to be a football fan in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The Bengals had Boomer Esiason as QB, Anthony Munoz and Chris Collinsworth and went 10-6 in ’86, then had that great Super Bowl year in ’88 during the Ickey Woods era (actually more like a moment, but he did make an impression). And after suffering through some horrendous start up years, the Colts picked up Eric Dickerson and won their division in 1987. But what I remember most about first becoming a football fan was a young quarterback who took over for Ron Jaworski in Philly: #12.
Cunningham first caught my attention with his electrifying play and amazing ability and comfort with scrambling out of the pocket for big yards down the field using his feet. He had a cannon for an arm and frequently had the Eagles in contention, although he never reached a Super Bowl. Some key moments in his career were some great wars with Washington, one game at home against Dallas where he was scrambling, almost got leveled by a tackle and then threw a game-winning touchdown. Although he didn’t get the ball in the endzone, he nonetheless threw for 407 yards in the 1988 “Fog Bowl” playoff game at Soldier Field. I remember watching that game. I didn’t see it, but I remember watching it:
Looking at Michael Vick doing his thing in an Eagles uniform directly recalls Cunningham in the same role from 1985 to 1995. Cunningham also played for Minnesota, Dallas (trying to forget that part) and Baltimore. But it was at Philly where he shined (save for that phenomenal 1998 Minnesota season, more on that later). In 11 seasons with the Eagles, Cunningham threw for 22,877 yards and 150 touchdowns. He rushed for 4,482 yards and 32 touchdowns. He still holds the NFL record for all-time rushing yards by a QB with 4,928 yards. He finished his career with 35 rushing TDs, which I believe is second behind Steve Young’s 43. His final passing numbers are 207 TDs and 29,979 yards over a 16-year career.
Cunningham had a devastating knee injury in 1991. But he returned the next season and won the 1992 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and was a 3-time Bert Bell Award winner. I remember a game against the Jets in 1993 where Cunningham went down with a fractured fibula and Eric Allen returned a game-winning interception and presented Cunningham, who hobbled back onto the field on crutches to watch, the game ball. I was bummed by losing Cunningham for the second time in three years, but I still remember that play. Here are some other stats / awards:
- 4Ã— Pro Bowl selection (1988, 1989, 1990, 1998)
- 4Ã— All-Pro selection (1989, 1990, 1992, 1998)
- 1990 PFWA NFL MVP
- 1990 UPI NFC Player of the Year
- 1988 Pro Bowl MVP
- 3Ã— Bert Bell Award winner (1998, 1990, 1988)
- 1992 NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Once Cunningham left the Eagles in ’95, he returned to play for the Vikings from ’97-’99. If you know anything about NFL history, that ’98 Minnesota team was a monster: 15-1 and reaching the NFC championship. That was Randy Moss’ rookie year and the Vikings set the record for points scored in a season at 556, which held until the 2007 Patriots’ 589. Cunningham had the best year of his career in the NFL, throwing for 3,704 yards and 34 touchdowns. This from a guy who had been out of the league retired just two seasons prior. If Gary Anderson, who had gone 35 for 35 all season, had not chosen that particular game to miss a 38-yarder, you would have seen the Vikes in the Super Bowl. I think that would have made for a much more exciting game than the Falcons’ snoozefest against the defending champion Broncos in Elway’s final game.
Last year, my heart went out to Cunningham upon word that his two-year-old son, Christian, tragically drowned in a hot tub at his family home in Las Vegas. I hope that Cunningham, who’s an ordained minister, was able to find strength in his faith after such a loss. I also hope that he finds strength in his fans, like me, who remember being thrilled with his heart and athleticism on the field. He’s my all-time favorite player.