Last month, former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham abruptly stepped down as the Raiders team chaplain. He didn’t elaborate on his decision at the time.
In an interview with Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the man who resurrected his career in Minnesota with a season for the ages in 1998 explained that he didn’t feel wanted by new Raiders coach Josh McDaniels.
“I kept calling and calling and calling, trying to contact the right officials to get the OK on what the direction was with Coach McDaniels, but it just went by, and finally I said, ‘I don’t think I’m needed here anymore,'” Cunningham told Tomasson. “He texted me one time and he said, ‘I’m looking forward to you and your involvement here. And I said, ‘Feel free to call anytime.’ And I never received a call back. And I just figured that was kind of like a sign for me it is time for me to move on.”
Cunningham explained that, during his time with the Vikings, the team chaplain played an important role.
“The players really need someone who is going to be like a brother, a father figure. Someone they can lean on and talk to outside of the organization, and that’s what we had in Minnesota,” Cunningham told Tomasson.
Cunningham had been hired by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who abruptly resigned after someone leaked the media grossly inappropriate emails Gruden had sent to former Washington executive Bruce Allen in 2011.
Cunningham, who served as the Raiders’ chaplain for two years, was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Eagles. After spending 1996 out of football, the Vikings brought him in as a backup. A broken leg suffered by Brad Johnson in Week Two of the 1998 season opened the door for Cunningham’s rebirth, with a 15-1 season and nearly a Super Bowl berth, thanks to an offense fueled by Hall of Fame receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter, along with an underrated by highly-effective No. 3 option, Jake Reed.
Cunningham lost his starting job in Minnesota during the 1999 season, and he finished his career as a backup in Dallas in 2000 and Baltimore in 2001.