If you met Bennie Cunningham back in West-Oak High School in South Carolina, you wouldn't know what to expect. Those who knew him those days say, he was a nice and caring individual who you always wanted to meet again. Cunningham later became a superstar and among the top Pittsburgh players when they dominated the NFL back in the 70s. As a great player for Steelers, Cunningham was a critical tight end and featured twice in the winning Steelers' winning teams that won two of the four Super Bowl titles.
Bennie Cunningham Tight End #89
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 254 lb (115 kg)
Drafted: 1976 / Round: 1 / Pick: 28
He was also a known by many as a career counselor at the West-Oak where he mentored many students. Cunningham was man who received many accolades and always wanted to give back more to the society. At some point Cunningham was pressed to speak more about his glorious moments as footballer, but in typical fashion, he extended his hand and said, "its all about these kids".
The former footballer star lost his brave battle with cancer on Monday morning at the age of 63. Cunningham was recently diagnosed with cancer. He played for the Tigers back in 1972-75 and he was among the team that won all American-honors while playing for the Tigers between 1974 and 1975. During the first round in 1976 draft, Cunningham was drafted by the Steelers, a team he played for until 1985. During his time with the Steelers, Cunningham won two Super Bowl titles and finished his career with more than 200 catches for the 2,879 yards and a record 20 touchdowns.
The tight end hero player graduated in 1972 from Seneca High school, where he nurtured his sports skills as a four-sport letterman and an active Shrine Bowl participant. He was later named as the All-State for football. Cunningham still holds the school's record for the most rebounds when it comes to basketball game. After he graduated from Seneca, Cunningham later joined Clemson through a football scholarship between 1972 and 1976. Again he was named the All-American this time as junior and later as a senior for Sporting News Team. Cunningham was named All ACC twice, which saw him selected for multiple all-star games such Japan Bowl, East-West shrine Bowl and Hula Bowl. He was ranked No.15 at Clemson football star of all-time in 1999.
After his successful football career, Cunningham returned back to Oconee County where he worked as a career counselor at the West-Oak High school. He also earned his degree in education which helped him to assist high students to achieve their dreams. He loved to stay in South Carolina during the offseason while playing for Steelers. Cunningham always saw himself working in education sector. When speaking to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cunningham said he enjoyed what he was doing, helping students to choose the right courses. He helped them to find the right path where they can make things happen for themselves.
Bennie Cunningham was definitely one of the greatest players in NFL history. He was able to set standard for the tight end position. He represented Clemson as a highly professional athlete and also after his football career. Everyone in football fraternity remembers Cunningham and his family with the highest regard.