The New England Patriots lost another legend. Patriots fans were saddened to learn of the terrible loss of running back Sam “Bam” Cunningham. The Hall of Famer earned his great honors in 2010. He was also part of the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement following Cunningham’s death.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of yet another loss to the Patriots family this week and our hearts ache for Sam Cunningham’s family and all who are mourning his passing today” he said. “Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was one of my favorite players throughout the ’70s and my sons all loved him.
“After I bought the team in 1994, it was my honor to welcome him back to the team on multiple occasions, recognizing him as a 50th anniversary team member and again for his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. As much as I admired him as a player, my affection for him only grew after spending time with him and learning more about him as a person. He made a tremendous impact, both on and off the field, and was beloved by his teammates. As a Patriots Hall of Famer, Sam’s legacy and contributions will be preserved and celebrated forever, but today his loss is felt with heavy hearts.”
Patriots fans suffer major loss in the death of the HOF running back
The Patriots used the 11th overall pick to get Cunningham in the 1973 NFL Draft. He spent nine years on the Patriots roster and saw action in 107 games in two stints from 1973-79 and 81-82. Cunningham had an impressive rookie campaign with the Patriots. He rushed for 516 yards and four touchdowns. In his second year with the team, Sam Bam averaged 4.5 yards per carry and about 80 yards per game before breaking his leg.
Cunningham missed the final four games of the season but earned the team’s MVP award. He finished that season with 811 yards on 166 carries and nine touchdowns.
The best statistical season happened in 1977. Cunningham was the second player in league history to go over 1,000 yards. The Hall-of-Famer also led the Patriots in receiving with 42 receptions for 420 yards. That was his career-high.