Sam “Bam” Cunningham was a fullback for the University of Southern California’s football team from 1970 to 1972. In 1970, he was part of USC’s “all-black” backfield (the first one of its kind in Division I (NCAA) history), that included quarterback Jimmy Jones and running back Clarence Davis.
Cunningham’s debut performance was against the all-white University of Alabama’s football team. USC beat Alabama with a score of 42-21 in Birmingham on September 12, 1970. It is said that Cunningham’s performance in the game was a key factor in convincing the coach of the University of Alabama to integrate Southern football.
In only his second year 1974, he gained 811 yards and 9 touchdowns as he led the New England Patriots to a surprising 4-0 start before faltering to a 7-7 finish. He played his entire career (1973 through 1982) with the Patriots and was a 1978 Pro Bowl selection.
Cunningham is the older brother of former UNLV and NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham.