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PRO FOOTBALL / BOB OATES : He's More Cunning Than Many Think

September 16, 1993|BOB OATES

For a talented football player, Randall Cunningham, during his many years as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback, has been subjected to far too many disparaging comments.

Just the other day, for example, Minnesota Viking quarterback Jim McMahon, a former teammate, stung Cunningham with a gratuitous insult.

"I don't think they're ever going to win a big one with him," McMahon said. "You don't ever see a team win a Super Bowl without a quarterback who knows what he's doing. . . . Something happens to certain people (meaning Cunningham) on game day where they just forget everything."

Shortly thereafter, another former teammate embarrassed Cunningham physically. In a game at Green Bay, defensive end Reggie White twice stripped him of the ball as the Packers jumped to a 10-0 lead.

By then, some players would have been looking for a place to hide. Not Cunningham. In an admirable display of courage, he stared White down and took the Eagles 75 yards for a touchdown.

On the goal line, calling an option play, he showed the maturity to throw for the touchdown. Some quarterbacks who "just forget everything" on game day would have tried to run the ball over.

In the end, Cunningham, a 20-17 upset winner, outplayed White, stepping around him on the game's big play and throwing a third-and-10 touchdown pass.

"I know Randall well enough that I should not have dove for him," White mourned afterward.

He might not know Cunningham as well as he thinks he does.

It's a cinch McMahon doesn't.

*

On the edge: As a passer for the unbeaten Cleveland Browns, Bernie Kosar, who is sometimes called the NFL's smartest quarterback, has started fast this season with the help of his team's fans in the so-called dog pound, where the barking inhabitants try to intimidate visiting players.

That's the kind of edge Raider teams could not realize in Los Angeles until this season.

In the new cozy Coliseum, where capacity has been reduced from about 92,000 to 67,802, it will be possible for shouting Raider fans to give their team the assistance rival teams have enjoyed for years in domed palaces and other enclosed, intimate stadiums.

At the moment, it is only theoretically possible.

Although the Coliseum is cozier now because Raider owner Al Davis wanted it that way, nobody can anticipate the activities of Los Angeles fans.

But they might respond to what is a different team this year. Two things have made it different, a new and improved quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, and new and improved play selection. First-down passing has led each of next Sunday's opponents, Kosar and Hostetler, to 2-0 records.

*

Quote department:

Emmitt Smith, Dallas' idle running back: "I'm not a holdout. I'm not breaking a contract. Last year, I (completed) my three-year contract (after) signing as the 17th player (drafted). They gave me 17th-player money, which was telling me to prove myself, and I feel like I have proved myself."

Troy Aikman, Dallas quarterback: "What Emmitt is going through this year, I might be (going through) next year."

Jimmy Johnson, Dallas coach, on rumors that he could shortly be moving into Don Shula's job with the Miami Dolphins: "Everyone knows I love South Florida."

Richie Petitbon, Washington coach, on the injury that sidelined quarterback Mark Rypien on Sunday when he forgot to slide: "I didn't think it was that tough a hit. Sometimes it seems the worst things happen on hits that aren't that bad."

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