Coming Attractions: ‘The Ultimate Weapon’

By Michael-Louis Ingram, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 9, 2009

“Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn’t one more thing you could’ve done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that, gentlemen – you’re perfect!”

Billy Bob Thornton in “Friday Night Lights.”

PHILADELPHIA (BASN) — A short while ago, the case was made for Steve McNair as a future Pro Football Hall of Famer; and now, necessity dictates the same be done for the man once known as football’s “ultimate weapon” – quarterback Randall Cunningham.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Cunningham was a legitimate triple threat. In addition to his arm strength and running ability, Cunningham was an All-American selection in college as a punter.

During his stint in the National Football League, Cunningham, when used as an emergency kicker, averaged 44.7 yards on 20 punts and placed two of his punts into the League record books (80 and 91 yards, the latter an Eagles’ team record).

Knowing the haters will put out the usual bullshit about Randall being “good but not good enough” or he “had bad throwing mechanics” – I say…stop.

As we do here at BASN, we’ll put out the facts & figures – and go from there:

Cunningham played for the Philadelphia Eagles (1985-1995), Minnesota Vikings (1997-1999), Dallas Cowboys (2000), and the Baltimore Ravens (2001). His career passing stats: completed 2,429 of 4,289 passes (56.6%) for 29,979 yards and 207 touchdowns (81.5 passer rating).

He ranks 31st overall on the NFL All-Time Pass Attempts List (4,289); 30th on NFL All-Time Passing Completions List (2,429); 30th on NFL All-Time Gross Yards Passing List (29,979); 24th on NFL All-Time Touchdown Passes List (207) and 36th on NFL All-Time Passer Rating List (81.5).

Cunningham also holds the Philadelphia Eagles’ team records for passing yardage in a game (447 in 1989 at Washington); and had three 400-yard single-game passing performances.

The Running Man

Cunningham has rushed for more yards than any other quarterback in NFL history with 4,928 on 775 attempts – for an unreal 6.4 yards per carry – and 35 touchdowns. His best single-game rushing total was 124 yards on 8 carries against New England in 1990, which included a 52-yard TD run.

Now putting that in its proper perspective, Cunningham’s totals surpass the following running backs: Christian Okoye, Joe Washington, Napoleon Kaufman, Robert Newhouse, Marion Motley, Donny Anderson, MacArthur Lane, Livonia “Stump” Mitchell, Tom Matte, Alex Webster, Abner Haynes, Marv Hubbard, Otis Armstrong, Ed Podolak, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Cookie Gilchrist, Matt Snell, Steve Young, Tony Canadeo, Dalton Hilliard, Eugene “Mercury” Morris, Edgar Bennett, Dick Hoak, Walt Garrison, Rocky Bleier, Timmy Brown, Clarke Hinkle, Jon Arnett, Jim Kiick, Johnny Roland, Paul Hornung, Fran Tarkenton, Tank Younger and Preston Pearson.

Of this group, Motley, Young, Hinkle, Hornung, Tarkenton and Canadeo are Hall of Famers. All the other backs save for Bleier, Kiick, Garrison, Young & Tarkenton have been leading rushers for their respective teams; all in the group have been All-Pro or Pro Bowl players at some point in their career…

Pass This…

While there are 29 passers who have thrown for more career yards than Cunningham, the Stat Nerds bitch up when it comes to passer rating and TD/INT ratio.

Cunningham’s 81.5 rating (led the league in 1998 with a 106 rating and the Comeback Player of the Year Award) surpasses the following (in ascending order): Norm Snead, John Brodie, Sonny Jurgensen, Y.A. Tittle, Phil Simms, John Hadl, Steve DeBerg, Jim Hart, Kerry Collins, Jim Everett, Johnny Unitas, Dan Fouts, Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon…and John Elway. He is tied with Dave Krieg and Troy Aikman is a tenth of a point above him.

Of that group, Jurgensen, Tittle, Unitas, Fouts, Tarkenton, Moon, Elway and Aikman are Hall of Famers.

The TD/INT ratio of 207-134 by Cunningham rates him above everyone; with the exceptions of Joe Montana, Elway, Steve Young, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.

Not bad for someone who supposedly had “throwing mechanics” issues…

But when it comes to quarterback, the most compelling statistic may be well be the “his’n & your’n” composite – teams quarterbacked by Cunningham versus his peers.

With the aid of Pro-Football Reference.com, Cunningham-led teams have a head-to-head winning advantage over teams quarterbacked by the following pivots: Stan Gelbaugh, Chris Chandler, Jeff Hostetler, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Dan Majowski, Marc Wilson, Steve Beuerlein, Mark Rypien, Bubby Brister, B.J. Tolliver, Heath Shuler, Charlie Batch, Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Trent Green, Erik Kramer, Mark Brunell, Steve Pelluer, Ken O’Brien, Streve Grogan, Neil Lomax, Bobby Hebert, Doug Williams, Jay Schroeder, Rich Gannon, Jim Everett, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, and is undefeated versus John Elway-led teams.

Of that group, Moon, Aikman and Elway are Hall of Famers, with Favre a veritable future shoo-in making four.

He is even up against Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Dave Krieg, Danny White, Jeff George, Chris Miller, Timm Rosenbach, Bernie Kosar and Jim Kelly. Kelly is a Hall of Famer, with Simms a likely future pick as well. The only QBs among the all-time passing leaders to beat Cunningham head up are Steve Young (2-1) and Joe Montana (1-0).

Now as good as Cunningham was with his’n – think what he could have done with a bona fide offensive line. Anyone who had eyes could see that Randall had arguably one of the worst offensive lines ever during his prime time as the Eagles QB. You put Montana, Kelly or Marino behind that line and the only hall they end up in is in the hall of the emergency ward at the local hospital!

While Cunningham never got to a Super Bowl, it’s fair to say that neither would any of the aforementioned passers with the Cheese – Whiz line he had in Philadelphia!

Ironically, by the time Cunningham did have the luxury of a great O-line, his “Rocket Man” days were long over; but he had his best winning season. With All-Pros Todd Steussie, Jeff Christy and Hall of Fame tackle Randall McDaniel protecting him, he led the Minnesota Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 – and a then league record 556 points scored.

Randall Cunningham is also a three-time MVP (Maxwell Award, UPI, and Bert Bell award) as well as a four – time All-Pro and four – time Pro Bowl selection.

So as the Class of 2010 will welcome automatics like Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders, the numbers clearly show any attempt to deny “The Ultimate Weapon” his rightful place in Canton, Ohio – and his bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – smack of poisonous politics and further discrediting of the Black quarterback; by a League too cowardly to acknowledge superior talent under inferior circumstances.