The Las Vegas Raiders have made sweeping changes throughout the organization this offseason, hiring a new head coach, general manager and team president. One person left over from the Jon Gruden era was former star quarterback Randall Cunningham — until now.
Cunningham, who was hired in 2020, has resigned from his position as team chaplain. With so many new faces calling the shots in Las Vegas, the Raiders were going to be run differently, and Cunningham said he felt it it was time to move on.
“I kept calling and calling and calling, trying to contact the right officials to get the OK on what the direction was with Coach [Josh] McDaniels, but it just went by, and finally I said, ‘I don’t think I’m needed here anymore,’” Cunningham told Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. “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, 59, starred with the Philadelphia Eagles for 11 years before retiring after the 1995 season. He unretired in 1997, playing for three years with the Minnesota Vikings and a season each with the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens before retiring for good in 2001. He returned to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to graduate and then became ordained as a minister in 2004, when he opened his own church, Remnant Ministries.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Cunningham Believes Players Need Someone Like Him
Cunningham, who went to four Pro Bowls and was runner-up in MVP voting twice, earned respect around the NFL. He said he believed that it was important for players to have someone like him around — and not just for religious reasons.
“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.
Most teams have a chaplain, even if they are not technically employed by the teams, according to a 2017 story by Fox Sports. And Cunningham is not the first celebrity chaplain to minister to Raiders players. In 2002, former Oakland Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman, who exited the league in 2000 at age 27. took on the role of team chaplain.
Regardless, it remains to be seen if the Raiders will hire another team chaplain or keep the position open.
McDaniels Setting New Culture
Setting his culture will be one of the most important things that McDaniels does in his opening year. The Raiders have commonly been looked at as the bad boys of the NFL. That won’t be the case under McDaniels. In a perfect world, players in McDaniels’ new system, will be smart and prepared. He’s going to keep things buttoned up and technical.
In a May appearance on the “Brother From Another” podcast, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said after a visit to the Raiders, “I think when you’re in that building, you can kind of feel, it’s just different now. You can’t win games and you can’t lose games now, but what you can do is build the sort of atmosphere where people want to come in and go to work.”
READ NEXT: Raiders DE Clelin Ferrell Put on Notice