Leading the rush
catching up with Sam Cunningham
ENGLEWOOD, California - He sits atop the all-time rushing list for the New England Patriots.
Sam Cunningham played nine seasons (1973-1982) with New England rushing for 5,453 yards - the most of any running back to ever wear a Patriots uniform. The closest active running back to him is Kevin Faulk, who enters the season with 2,489 yards.
I tell everybody Im only the teams leading rusher by default because of the way the system is set up now," said Cunningham.
"If the system was set up when I played Curtis Martin would be the leading rusher. He was an outstanding back we had who left through free agency. It makes me smile, but I didnt anticipate it being this long.
These days, Cunningham resides in Englewood, California with his wife. They have two children, Jamela, 23 and Samahndi, 17, and one grandchild, Zamiyah, who is two.
I grew up in Santa Barbara and even when I played I always came back pretty much every off-season, said Cunningham. I stayed here and worked out then came back during the season. Its just home and where I was born and raised. A lot of my friends and relatives are over this way.
When I was playing my mom and dad were still alive in Santa Barbara. I liked to go up and hang out with them as much as possible. I was fortunate I did because the last two years that I played they both passed away one year right after another.
Cunningham is now working as a landscape contractor for A & D landscaping. He has been involved with it for almost 20 years.
I have always gravitated towards that and plus its an outdoor job, so I dont have to dress in a suite and tie, said Cunningham. Thats pretty much in and of itself why it attracted me. Its fun being outdoors and fun taking something and turning it into something else real nice.
In addition to landscaping, Cunningham has been talking to a lot of players coming out of college, who are looking go to the next level.
I try to temper them a little bit and make them understand its a business, said Cunningham. You get paid, but you have to work for that pay. There are a lot of traps out there. I learned a lot from my teammates and a lot of people I worked with. It makes no sense to take what I learned and not pass it on so somebody else can get some use out of it.
Community and charity are extremely important to Cunningham as well. His youngest daughter, Zamiyah, is a Cancer survivor and he does a lot of fund-raising for the cCancer Foundation. Continued...