Friday, December 26, 2014

Catching up with Randall Cunningham

Randall Cunningham joined ESPN 950's Mike Missanelli Friday afternoon in an interview that touched on a variety of subjects, including what he's doing now, his Hall of Fame credentials, who he likes in this weekend's Eagles-Giants game and Donovan McNabb. Cunningham, who said he has four children and is a pastor at a church on the west coast, said he's pulling for the Birds this weekend and thinks they can advance past New York. Here are some excerpts from the interview. Click here to listen in its entirety. What are his feelings when he looks back on his career? "It was very rewarding. I look back to not getting that Super Bowl and that bothered me a little bit today. I was watching my man Tim Tebow at the University of Florida, doing a great job yesterday and winning the national championship and it made me start thinking about…they were showing the Dallas Cowboys the year they had the bad year and then went to the Super Bowl. Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith on TV, and I was like ‘Man I don’t even have a chance to get a Super Bowl again. I’m done.’ So that’s the only bitter feeling I have is not winning a Super Bowl. What's it like to play quarterback at Giants Stadium? "It’s very difficult because of the wind. And if it’s cold, oh my God. I remember my first game, when I thought I was gonna be sitting on the bench the whole game and bringing [Ron] Jaworski his coat and some Gatorade. The first time we played them, Jaworski went out there, and unfortunately it was a tough day, very, very windy and cold and we didn’t pass the 50-yard line. The next thing you know, they said ‘Randall, you’re in.’ I went out there and tried to pass it, and the ball didn’t go where you wanted it to go, so I was like ‘Why am in here? If Jaws can’t do the job, I can’t do it any better.’ And I was so young but it was difficult to throw the ball." How difficult is it for Donovan McNabb to play quarterback in Philadelphia? "It’s difficult for any quarterback. Out here on the west coast, the only thing you really hear is Donovan got benched. So you don’t really hear a lot of negative talk. All you know is that the Eagles are doing good, the coaching staff is doing good, Westbrook is back and looks like the team is doing very, very well. And there’s a lot of hope out here. People are really picking us to win, and I’m excited about that. I want to go to the Super Bowl again. The one Super Bowl I got to go to, truly, was when the Eagles went. And that was great. Jeff Lurie invited me and I hope we get to do that again." Were the fans in Philadelphia too hard on Cunningham? "You know, what is hard? It was a growing experience for me. I don’t think they were overly hard on me. I think the people love the game and that’s just part of it and they get caught up in it and you know, it becomes a form of life for them. And it’s like that in many towns. I don’t care if it’s in New York or Yankee Stadium. Many sports fans, they love their team, and that’s the one thing they get to cling on to when things aren’t going good, is their team and when the team lets them down, it’s a big letdown. It’s unfortunate, but I think Donovan McNabb, first of all, is a very, very strong young man, and also, I’m a fan of him. The Philadelphia Eagles are my favorite team. And the Baltimore Ravens are my second favorite team so I’m hoping that we both make the Super Bowl. How hard is it too play in the West Coast Offense? Actually, I loved the west coast offense but I saw the report, when Steve Sabol did a report on me, about whether or not I should get into the Hall of Fame. And they showed Jon Gruden and some other people, and Jon Gruden said ‘You know what? I was really trying to push the issue for it to be his way and he was trying to make me fit his system.’ And he said that was the mistake he made. He said if he had me now, and he wished I would come out of retirement, he would do things differently. See the thing about Donovan and the West Coast Offense is that Andy [Reid] has made it a beautiful offense for him. He’s got a great guy in Westbrook and when Terrell [Owens] was there, the passing game was going very, very well. What's his take on Sunday's Eagles-Giants game? "I’m pulling for my boys to win. Didn’t we beat them in Giants Stadium? Alright then, there you go. That settles it. We can go ahead and repeat it and go to the NFC Championship." What's it like waiting to hear if he'll get into the Hall of Fame? "It’s exciting, but I’ve heard so much…when Cris Carter didn’t get into the Hall of Fame, I was completely shocked. That blew my mind. Isn’t he the second-most prolific receiver in the history of the NFL? So you see guys doing great work like that, and it would be nice to go in with him. That would be awesome. But you know what, if I get in, I’ll be grateful, my speech will be prepared, I’ll be thanking a lot of people, but my goal is really just to continue to love people and be kind to them and lead them to the lord. And I just really hope, whenever I get a chance to come back to Philly, I get to spend time with the people who really pulled for me, who helped me and really changed my life. The people there don’t really know how much they had input in my life. I’m able to be a pastor now because of the strength and my mentality and integrity that was built in Philadelphia, by going through the hardship and going through the good times and that made me a man. When I went there I was just a kid and I didn’t understand things. I was just an innocent little kid coming out of Santa Barbara, California by way of Las Vegas, and made it there. And the people who hung around with me and stood in there with me and made me strong. Whether it was 610 WIP being tough on me, that didn’t make a difference. Whether it was the papers ripping me, that was fine. There were good times and the good times outweighed the bad times for sure." What was his best and worst moment as an Eagle? "There were so many great moments and I probably always use a different one. The day I was coming back and was a Dallas Cowboy, and half the stadium cheering for me and half the stadium booing me, it let me know people still appreciated me, but they were going to let me know their natural feelings. And then my worst time was just getting injured. Whether it was at Jets Stadium or in Green Bay blowing my knee out, those were the worst times." Where does the Fog Bowl rank? "That was terrible. I really believe that we shold have went to the Super Bowl that year under Buddy Ryan. Great athletes, great mentality. I think if we could have won that game, that would have been the difference in my career. I probably would have retired an Eagle."

Catching up with Randall Cunningham

Randall Cunningham is looking for the Eagles to take down the Giants this weekend. (AP / File photo)
Randall Cunningham is looking for the Eagles to take down the Giants this weekend. (AP / File photo)

Randall Cunningham joined ESPN 950's Mike Missanelli Friday afternoon in an interview that touched on a variety of subjects, including what he's doing now, his Hall of Fame credentials, who he likes in this weekend's Eagles-Giants game and Donovan McNabb.

Cunningham, who said he has four children and is a pastor at a church on the west coast, said he's pulling for the Birds this weekend and thinks they can advance past New York.

Here are some excerpts from the interview. Click here to listen in its entirety.

What are his feelings when he looks back on his career?

"It was very rewarding. I look back to not getting that Super Bowl and that bothered me a little bit today. I was watching my man Tim Tebow at the University of Florida, doing a great job yesterday and winning the national championship and it made me start thinking about…they were showing the Dallas Cowboys the year they had the bad year and then went to the Super Bowl. Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith on TV, and I was like ‘Man I don’t even have a chance to get a Super Bowl again. I’m done.’ So that’s the only bitter feeling I have is not winning a Super Bowl.

What's it like to play quarterback at Giants Stadium?

"It’s very difficult because of the wind. And if it’s cold, oh my God. I remember my first game, when I thought I was gonna be sitting on the bench the whole game and bringing [Ron] Jaworski his coat and some Gatorade. The first time we played them, Jaworski went out there, and unfortunately it was a tough day, very, very windy and cold and we didn’t pass the 50-yard line. The next thing you know, they said ‘Randall, you’re in.’ I went out there and tried to pass it, and the ball didn’t go where you wanted it to go, so I was like ‘Why am in here? If Jaws can’t do the job, I can’t do it any better.’ And I was so young but it was difficult to throw the ball."

How difficult is it for Donovan McNabb to play quarterback in Philadelphia?

"It’s difficult for any quarterback. Out here on the west coast, the only thing you really hear is Donovan got benched. So you don’t really hear a lot of negative talk. All you know is that the Eagles are doing good, the coaching staff is doing good, Westbrook is back and looks like the team is doing very, very well. And there’s a lot of hope out here. People are really picking us to win, and I’m excited about that. I want to go to the Super Bowl again. The one Super Bowl I got to go to, truly, was when the Eagles went. And that was great. Jeff Lurie invited me and I hope we get to do that again."

Were the fans in Philadelphia too hard on Cunningham?

"You know, what is hard? It was a growing experience for me. I don’t think they were overly hard on me. I think the people love the game and that’s just part of it and they get caught up in it and you know, it becomes a form of life for them. And it’s like that in many towns. I don’t care if it’s in New York or Yankee Stadium. Many sports fans, they love their team, and that’s the one thing they get to cling on to when things aren’t going good, is their team and when the team lets them down, it’s a big letdown. It’s unfortunate, but I think Donovan McNabb, first of all, is a very, very strong young man, and also, I’m a fan of him. The Philadelphia Eagles are my favorite team. And the Baltimore Ravens are my second favorite team so I’m hoping that we both make the Super Bowl.

How hard is it too play in the West Coast Offense?

Actually, I loved the west coast offense but I saw the report, when Steve Sabol did a report on me, about whether or not I should get into the Hall of Fame. And they showed Jon Gruden and some other people, and Jon Gruden said ‘You know what? I was really trying to push the issue for it to be his way and he was trying to make me fit his system.’ And he said that was the mistake he made. He said if he had me now, and he wished I would come out of retirement, he would do things differently. See the thing about Donovan and the West Coast Offense is that Andy [Reid] has made it a beautiful offense for him. He’s got a great guy in Westbrook and when Terrell [Owens] was there, the passing game was going very, very well.

What's his take on Sunday's Eagles-Giants game?

"I’m pulling for my boys to win. Didn’t we beat them in Giants Stadium? Alright then, there you go. That settles it. We can go ahead and repeat it and go to the NFC Championship."

What's it like waiting to hear if he'll get into the Hall of Fame?

"It’s exciting, but I’ve heard so much…when Cris Carter didn’t get into the Hall of Fame, I was completely shocked. That blew my mind. Isn’t he the second-most prolific receiver in the history of the NFL? So you see guys doing great work like that, and it would be nice to go in with him. That would be awesome. But you know what, if I get in, I’ll be grateful, my speech will be prepared, I’ll be thanking a lot of people, but my goal is really just to continue to love people and be kind to them and lead them to the lord. And I just really hope, whenever I get a chance to come back to Philly, I get to spend time with the people who really pulled for me, who helped me and really changed my life. The people there don’t really know how much they had input in my life. I’m able to be a pastor now because of the strength and my mentality and integrity that was built in Philadelphia, by going through the hardship and going through the good times and that made me a man. When I went there I was just a kid and I didn’t understand things. I was just an innocent little kid coming out of Santa Barbara, California by way of Las Vegas, and made it there. And the people who hung around with me and stood in there with me and made me strong. Whether it was 610 WIP being tough on me, that didn’t make a difference. Whether it was the papers ripping me, that was fine. There were good times and the good times outweighed the bad times for sure."

What was his best and worst moment as an Eagle?

"There were so many great moments and I probably always use a different one. The day I was coming back and was a Dallas Cowboy, and half the stadium cheering for me and half the stadium booing me, it let me know people still appreciated me, but they were going to let me know their natural feelings. And then my worst time was just getting injured. Whether it was at Jets Stadium or in Green Bay blowing my knee out, those were the worst times."

Where does the Fog Bowl rank?

"That was terrible. I really believe that we shold have went to the Super Bowl that year under Buddy Ryan. Great athletes, great mentality. I think if we could have won that game, that would have been the difference in my career. I probably would have retired an Eagle."

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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