BOSTON (CBS) — Sam “Bam” Cunningham, the former Patriots running back who remains the all-time rushing leader in franchise history, died on Tuesday at the age of 71.
Cunningham’s death was first shared by the University of Southern California, where Cunningham won a national championship in 1972 and the Rose Bowl in 1973.
A true Trojan Legend. Rest in peace Sam “Bam” Cunningham.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Cunningham family. pic.twitter.com/EkdymZvu84
— USC Football (@USC_FB) September 7, 2021
Cunningham was drafted by the Patriots with the 11th pick in the 1973 NFL draft. In 107 regular-season games, he rushed for 5,343 yards, which still stands as the most in Patriots history, despite Cunningham’s final season taking place in 1982. Cunningham’s 43 rushing touchdowns have him ranked second all-time in Patriots history.
Robert Kraft on Sam Cunningham pic.twitter.com/saJZIXWhe0
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 7, 2021
He also caught 210 passes for 1,905 yards and six touchdowns for New England from 1973-82. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2010. and he is a member of the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team and the 1970s Patriots All-Decade Team.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Cunningham was one of his favorite players throughout the 70’s. “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,” Kraft said. “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.”