Former NFL MVP Randall Cunningham Hired by Raiders as Team Chaplain

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2020

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13:  Former NFL and UNLV quarterback Randall Cunningham attends a news conference introducing Marcus Arroyo as UNLV's new head football coach at UNLV's Fertitta Football Complex on December 13, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Arroyo most recently served as the offensive coordinator at Oregon.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders hired former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham as their team chaplain Friday.

Cunningham told ESPN's Paul Gutierrez about his new role: "I'm elated, flabbergasted. I've already been in on some [Zoom] meetings with the team. I plan on spending a lot of time with the guys when it's OK. I've talked with Marcus Mariota, Nelson Agholor. What an amazing group of people Mark Davis and Jon Gruden have put together." 

The 57-year-old Cunningham played his college football at UNLV and made Las Vegas his home late in his playing career. In 2004, Cunningham opened a church called Remnant Ministries in Las Vegas.

Per Gutierrez, Cunningham is replacing former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman as team chaplain. Kaufman is based in Oakland, but the Raiders are officially making the move to Vegas for the 2020 season.

Raiders owner Mark Davis believes Cunningham will be a good fit for the role: "He's going to take care of the guys in Las Vegas. Jon had him address the team in a team Zoom [recently] and he did a really good job of setting the stage for the team in Las Vegas. When you talk to anyone in the community, everybody always talks about Randall. It's pretty special."

During his 16-year NFL career from 1985-95 and 1997-2001, Cunningham played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens.

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He was a second-round pick of the Eagles in 1985 and went on to three Pro Bowls as a member of the Eagles from 1988-90. Cunningham was also named PFWA NFL MVP in 1990 when he threw for 3,466 yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while also rushing for 942 yards and five scores.

Cunningham retired and didn't play in 1996, but he returned in 1997 with the Vikings as a backup and then became a full-time starter in 1998.

His 1998 season was one of the best comeback stories in NFL history, as he went 13-1 in 14 starts and threw for 3,704 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 picks. Cunningham was named a Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro, and he took Minnesota to the NFC Championship Game.

For his career, Cunningham threw for 29,979 yards, 207 touchdowns and 134 interceptions. He also rushed for 4,928 yards and 35 touchdowns, making him one of the best running quarterbacks in NFL history.

Cunningham was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016 after leading the PCAA in completion percentage and passing yards in 1983 and passing touchdowns in both 1983 and 1984 and helping UNLV to its first-ever bowl appearance and win at the 1984 California Bowl.