Is Randall Cunningham a Hall of Famer?

The stadium scene.
Aug. 27 2002 11:20 AM

The Case for Cunningham

Why he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

(Continued from Page 1)

Cunningham had some divine magic in his fast-twitch muscles. Three plays stand out in Randall's pantheon of the miraculous. One comes from a 1990 game against Buffalo, when Cunningham, throwing from his end zone, was about to be engulfed from the blind side by Bruce Smith. Spidey-sense at full tingle, Randall ducked under the flying tackle and heaved a pass 60 yards off his back foot. The result: an unforgettable 95-yard touchdown.

The other two came at the expense of the New York Giants, for whom the late-'80s were a Sisyphean struggle to control No. 12 in green and white. In a 1988 game on Monday Night Football, Giants LB Carl Banks torpedoed in and crunched the Eagle QB at the midriff. Most players would have landed in the third row, but Cunningham managed to twist his body in midair, put a hand down for balance while parallel to the ground, regain his footing, and dive in for the score. The following season, Randall uncorked a 91-yard, into-the-wind punt to clinch a key game against the G-men. It was the greatest display of punting by a quarterback since Sammy Baugh led the league from 1940 to 43.

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While individual plays don't make a career, part of being a Hall of Famer is leaving an indelible impression. Cunningham was the most electrifying player not named B. Sanders to take the field since Gale Sayers was knocked from the game. And unlike Terrell Davis, Randall made it back from crippling injuries to return to the pinnacle of the sport. These attributes, plus his pioneer status, far outweigh his lack of a Super Bowl ring and are why Cunningham should be voted into Canton on the first ballot five years hence.

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