Randall Cunningham redefined the quarterback position.
Once Cunningham entered the NFL in 1985, there wasn’t a player in the previous 66 seasons of the league that had his combination of arm strength and speed.
That equated to a decade of must-see TV when Cunningham lined up under center for the Philadelphia Eagles on fall Sundays.
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Cunningham was one of the greatest quarterbacks in Eagles history, finishing with 22,877 yards, 150 touchdowns, 105 interceptions, and a 78.7 passer rating. He also has a franchise-record 4,482 rushing yards (for quarterbacks) and 32 touchdowns.
In 11 seasons with the Eagles, Cunningham had a total of 27,359 yards and 182 touchdowns. This while playing under an offensive line that led the NFL in sacks allowed five times during his career.
Those numbers were just the summary of “The Ultimate Weapon.” Numbers didn’t do Cunningham justice, especially since his Eagles career was summarized in two parts.
Prior to Green Bay Packers linebacker Bryce Paup tearing Cunningham’s ACL in Week 1 of the 1991 season, he was the NFL’s most dynamic quarterback. From 1998 to 1990, Cunningham threw for 10,674 yards and 75 touchdowns while rushing for 2,187 yards and 15 touchdowns (averaging 7.0 yards per carry).
Cunningham was a First Team All-Pro in 1988 and 1990, a Pro Bowler al three seasons, two-time Bert Ball Award winner (NFL Player of the Year, 1988 and 1990) and the 1990 NFL MVP.
After Cunningham’s ACL injury, he was the 1992 NFL Comeback Player of the Year after throwing for 2,775 yards, 19 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 87.3 passer rating. He also ran for 549 yards and five touchdowns while leading the Eagles to their first playoff victory since 1980.
Injuries signaled the end of Cunningham’s career in Philadelphia, as he only played four games in the 1993 season and missed two games in 1994.
Cunningham struggled to learn the West Coast offense in 1995 and was benched by Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes for Rodney Peete after going 1-3 to start the year. He received a standing ovation in Philadelphia after coming in late in the fourth quarter of the Eagles 59-37 win over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card round.
Cunningham retired from football after the season, only to make a comeback with the Minnesota Vikings in 1997. He was the quarterback of the 1998 Vikings, which was one of the most-profilic offenses in NFL history, throwing for 3,704 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 106.0 passer rating.
Cunningham won the Bert Ball Award and was a First-Team All-Pro that season. He finished his 16-year career with 29,979 yards, 207 touchdowns, 134 interceptions, and an 81.5 passer rating. Cunningham also rushed for 4,928 yards and 35 touchdowns.
The Eagles haven’t officially retired the No. 12, but the number hasn’t been issued since Cunningham wore it in 1995.
Honorable mention: Tom McNeill. McNeill punted in two seasons for the Eagles (1972 and 1973), averaging 41.5 yards per punt.
All players to wear No. 12 for the Eagles: John Roberts, Ed Matesic, Art Buss, Herschel Ramsey, Kent Lawrence, Tom McNeill, Bill Troup, Bob Holly, Randall Cunningham
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