Sam Cunningham Dies at 71; Fostered Integration on the Soccer Area


By 1977, Alabama had 17 Black soccer gamers on scholarship.

Samuel Lewis Cunningham Jr. was born on Aug. 15, 1950, in Santa Barbara, Calif. His father was a railroad employee. His mom, Zoe (Ivory) Cunningham, died when he was younger; he was raised by his father and stepmother, Mabel Cunningham, a nurse.

Sam and his brothers, Anthony, Bruce and Randall, a future quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles and three different N.F.L. groups, had been all athletic. Sam was launched to organized sports activities in elementary college, the place he performed basketball, baseball, volleyball and flag soccer.

He was recruited by Coach John McKay to U.S.C. and, in his three seasons on the group, gained 1,579 yards on 337 carries. He scored 4 short-yardage touchdowns within the Trojans’ 42-17 victory over Ohio State within the 1973 Rose Bowl, which wrapped up a 12-Zero season. That yr’s group was ranked No. 1 in school soccer.

Cunningham was chosen by the New England Patriots with the 11th total decide within the 1973 N.F.L. draft. In his 9 seasons with the group, he collected 5,453 speeding yards, together with 516 in his first season, a Patriots rookie document, and 1,015 in 1977, making him the second Patriot to exceed 1,000 yards in a season. He sat out the 1980 season in a contract dispute, which prompted the Patriots to commerce him to the Miami Dolphins. However he failed the group’s bodily and returned to the Patriots shortly earlier than the 1981 season.

“Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was one among my favourite gamers all through the ’70s, and my sons all liked him,” the Patriots’ proprietor, Robert Kraft, mentioned in an announcement. “After I purchased the group in 1994, it was my honor to welcome him again to the group on a number of events, recognizing him as a 50th-anniversary group member and once more for his induction into the Patriots Corridor of Fame.”

Cunningham turned a panorama contractor after his enjoying profession ended.

Along with his spouse, he’s survived by his daughter, Samahndi Cunningham; and his brothers.

Cunningham joined Jones and Davis within the backfield early within the first quarter of that historic 1970 recreation in opposition to Alabama.

“I didn’t go into any recreation seeking to change historical past, although historical past tends to be modified by issues of that nature,” he instructed The Santa Barbara Unbiased this yr. “I all the time tried to play to one of the best of my skill, and that’s what I did that night. I used to be put in the appropriate spot and acquired touched by the hand of God.”

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