Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham, , “JUST A GREAT MAN, FATHER, HUSBAND, BROTHER, FRIEND”, OLDER BROTHER OF NFL GREAT “RANDALL CUNNINGHAM”, AND Hall of Fame USC player who helped integrate college football, dies at 71, he was part of USC’s “all-black” backfield – the first one of its kind in Division I (NCAA) history – that included quarterback Jimmy Jones and running back Clarence Davis.

Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham,  , “JUST A GREAT MAN, FATHER, HUSBAND, BROTHER, FRIEND”, OLDER BROTHER OF NFL GREAT “RANDALL CUNNINGHAM”, AND Hall of Fame USC player who helped integrate college football, dies at 71, he was part of USC’s “all-black” backfield – the first one of its kind in Division I (NCAA) history – that included quarterback Jimmy Jones and running back Clarence Davis.

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Sam Cunningham (born August 15, 1950, in Santa Barbara, CA) is a former USC All-American fullback in 1972 who convinced (through his play) Bear Bryant to integrate Southern football after USC soundly beat University of Alabama 42-21 at Birmingham on September 12, 1970 in a primetime matchup.

Bear Bryant allegedly brought Cunningham into the all-white Alabama locker room after the game and said “This is what a football player looks like.” While Cunningham’s performance in the game was unquestionably dominant, the locker room story is not true.

He was known as “Bam” because of his running style, and is the older brother of NFL star quarterback Randall Cunningham.

He was a 1978 Pro-bowler with the New England Patriots and played with them in his whole career from 1973 until 1982.

Hall of Fame

@samCunningham34
Sam Cunningham
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Sam Cunningham
  • School
    Southern California (USC)
  • Induction
    2010
Position: Fullback
Years: 1970-1972
Place of Birth: Santa Barbara, CA
Date of Birth: Aug 15, 1950
Jersey Number: 39
Height: 6-3
Weight: 212
High School: Santa Barbara HS (Santa Barbara, CA)Sam “Bam” Cunningham earned his nickname for his bruising goal line dives throughout his career with the Trojans. Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach John McKay, Cunningham rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries against Alabama in his first collegiate game. A member of the Trojans’ 1972 national championship team, Cunningham scored four touchdowns in the 1973 Rose Bowl (his final game) and was named the player of the game. Cunningham was the team’s Back of the Year and a team captain of a squad that many feel is among the greatest college teams of all-time. A 1972 First Team All-America, Cunningham played innumerous all star games including the Hula Bowl, College All-Star Game and Coaches All-America Game. Drafted 11th overall in the 1973 NFL Draft by New England, he played nine seasons for the Patriots. He was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team in 1978. Following his football career, Cunningham was active in charitable causes and worked as a landscape contractor. He is the older brother of 2016 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Randall Cunningham, who played punter and quarterback at UNLV.

 

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