Sam “Bam” Cunningham passes away

54thMA

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His performance in the 73 Rose Bowl was legendary, scored four TD's and helped bring home a national championship for USC.

Loved him as a Patriot.

RIP "BAM."
 

Bowhemian

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I was Bam in backyard football games as a kid. No one could tackle me. RIP to my first favorite football player.
 

mwonow

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Two fun facts about Sam Bam:

1. He's the leading Patriots rusher of all time
2. With 5,423 yards, he has the lowest franchise-leading total of any of the 32 teams in the league
 

Ferm Sheller

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When I was ages 8-11ish my friend and I used to play football together and I would always be Sam Bam Cunningham. Later, we instituted a rule that if one of us could throw the ball into this particular tree and have it get stuck in the tree we'd get credited with a TD -- we named the tree Sam Bam Cunningham. "It's 4th and goal and Ferm's under pressure from his friend and scrambling, he's about to be sacked . . . no, wait, he tosses the ball to Cunningham in the end zone . . . touchdown, Cunningham!"

Loved that guy. This is very sad news.
 

staz

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The cradle of the game.
He and Grogan were the only 2 players I had ever heard of for the first couple years of my pre-pubescent football fandom. SAM BAM CUNNING HAM! Still rolls right off the tongue.

RIP.
 

RoDaddy

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Sad sad day for Boston sports. Is there anyone who didn't love Sam Bam - and even if you didn't love sports, you had to love the nickname! As mentioned, he was money close to the goal line, and his smashmouth style next to mini Mack Herron so enchanted Patriots nation in the early 70's. And later on, the incredible rushing record-breaking 1978 team. And for you youngun's on the site, the 1976 Sugar Bear Hamilton rushing the passer penalty, 1979 too many Bruins on the ice vs Montreal, and Buchner error were such dark clouds over our sports town until the 21st century glory days
 

SoxJox

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He served as the model for Eddie George.

Looking at his wiki page, I did not know this:

Cunningham was an integral part of the 1978 Patriots, who set an NFL record for rushing yards as a team with 3,165. This record stood for more than forty years and was not broken until the 2019 Baltimore Ravens.
 

Dick Drago

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My favorite player growing up. Cursed by injuries or he’d have really racked up big numbers. Big, fast, great blocker, good receiver—maybe best all-around fullback of his era.
 

Ferm Sheller

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I also imagine that Sam was a BB type of player and that he'll have nice words to say about him at his next PC.
 

terrynever

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Not too many pro football players live to the average life span for men. Sam was a man among men in an era when there were still no rules. A big guy like Sam ran over tacklers but he got pummeled at the bottom of pileups. Someone mentioned earlier about how Sam beat up on Alabama and that opened the door for black players in the SEC. In 1971. That’s pretty fucked up.
 

bigq

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On rainy days when I was five or six and couldn't find a friend to play with, my father and I would play football in the basement. The bulkhead door and love seat on opposite sides of the room served as end zones. I was always Sam Bam in those games and every time I touched the ball it resulted in a TD. My father could never tackle me. He never really had a chance. RIP Sam Bam.
 
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Remagellan

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He and Grogan were the only 2 players I had ever heard of for the first couple years of my pre-pubescent football fandom. SAM BAM CUNNING HAM! Still rolls right off the tongue.

RIP.
This. When I was a kid, any bruising rush into the end zone would be accompanied by a shout of "SAM BAM CUNNING HAM!" Like the man who carried it, that name had power.

Rest in Power, Sam Bam.
 

bankshot1

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I remember him first as the one of the "name" USC backs to make an big impact in 60s college ball, Mike Garrett, then OJ, then Clarence Davis and then Sam.

And apparently the story goes that after getting his ass kicked in 1970 by USC, Bear, lobbied hard to get the Bama and SEC to integrate.

Interesting aside in 1973, in the 1st round the Pats drafted John Hannah @ #4, Sam @ #11 and Darryl Stingley @ # 19

Helluva 1st round

I guess the idea was to give Jim Plunkett some toys and protection.

RIP Sam Bam
 

jaytftwofive

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He ran all over Alabama in 1970, after which Bear Bryant decided that integration was a good thing.
i watched a special on that game in 1970. Bryant was smart. From what the documentary said it was apparent that Bryant wanted to play So. Cal to show how much better his team would be if they added black players. He knew deep down they would lose and they got whipped. He then to told the Alabama big wigs....See we need black players to win.
 

jaytftwofive

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The 1974 team with Bam and Minnie Mac and Plunkett etc...was one of my favorite Pat teams. Started out 6-1, but only finished 7-7. They were fun to watch, and were 3-3 against playoff teams that year.
 

jaytftwofive

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Sad sad day for Boston sports. Is there anyone who didn't love Sam Bam - and even if you didn't love sports, you had to love the nickname! As mentioned, he was money close to the goal line, and his smashmouth style next to mini Mack Herron so enchanted Patriots nation in the early 70's. And later on, the incredible rushing record-breaking 1978 team. And for you youngun's on the site, the 1976 Sugar Bear Hamilton rushing the passer penalty, 1979 too many Bruins on the ice vs Montreal, and Buchner error were such dark clouds over our sports town until the 21st century glory days
Not to harp on bad memories but most of us agree the Buckner error didn't lose the game. Sure it was part of it but the Stanley-Gedman Wild Pitch/Passed Ball is the main reason they lost the game. And Schiraldi's scared pitching, and Jim Rice getting thrown out by a mile. And of course Macnamara's managing, like not using Baylor as a pinch hitter, and Clemens supposed blister. You win and lose as a team. I'm just tired of Boston fans and fans over the country calling it the "Buckner Game"
 

Norm loves Vera

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I am 58 and a life long Patriot (and Red Sox fan) and I remember one christmas I got a #39 Patriots home jersey with Cunningham inscribed on the back. I was so excited to wear it to the first day back to school, and there were atleast 3 other boys with the same shirt at our middle school. I was still proud, but the shine had dulled. It turned out back in the day Sears had a deal with the NFL and there was one Jersey per team available in the annual Christmas Wish book, and that year it was # 39 for the Patriots.

We always said Sam "the Bam" Cunningham when referring to him and he was royalty along with John Hannah to us local kids
 

gryoung

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I recall a story about Sam Bam and Freddie Lynn. Apparently they were both at USC together and playing football. Lynn was playing both football and baseball. Lynn’s baseball skills were well-known.

After a practice where Lynn, playing safety, had taken on Sam Bam 1:1 and gotten obliterated, John McKay told him he should give up football and not risk his baseball career.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Late to this thread, I don't really remember the '78 Pats other than from what I've been told by others, the first real Pats/NFL season I remember following closely was in 1981 I think, so I don't really remember him as a player since his best days were behind him by then, but obviously I'm aware of his legacy. RIP Sam Bam.

And my mind is blown that he's Randall's older brother. How could I not have known that?