Ex-Vikings star Randall Cunningham on why he resigned as Raiders’ chaplain
New leadership in Las Vegas never returned the calls of the former All-Pro quarterback
When former star quarterback Randall Cunningham resigned last month as the Las Vegas Raiders’ team chaplain, he didn’t give much of a reason. He has now.
Cunningham, who played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1997-99, said in a phone interview this week that he stepped down July 20 because he no longer felt wanted by the Raiders under new head coach Josh McDaniels. Cunningham was hired in 2020 by former coach Jon Gruden, who resigned last October after old emails he wrote including racist and homophobic slurs surfaced as part of the NFL’s investigation into the workplace culture of the Washington Commanders.
“I kept calling and calling and calling, trying to contact the right officials to get the OK on what the direction was with Coach McDaniels, but it just went by, and finally I said, ‘I don’t think I’m needed here anymore,’ ” said Cunningham, a former UNLV star and pastor at Remnant Ministries, the Las Vegas church he opened in 2006.
Cunningham said he tried to reach out to Raiders owner Mark Davis after McDaniels was hired Jan. 31 but didn’t hear anything. He said he left about three messages for McDaniels after he was hired and did finally get a text from him about two months later.
“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,” Cunningham said. “And I just figured that was kind of like a sign for me it is time for me to move on.”
When Cunningham played for the Vikings, he said team chaplain was Keith Johnson. He was very close to the players and he had hoped to establish a similar structure with the Raiders. He said that wasn’t initially possible the last two seasons when he only could do Zoom calls with players due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 said.
The Raiders did not immediately return a message asking about Cunningham’s departure.
Cunningham played in the NFL from 1985-95 with Philadelphia and from 1997-2001 with the Vikings, Dallas and Baltimore. He made three Pro Bowls with the Eagles and one with Minnesota in 1998, when he also was first-team All-Pro for the only time in his career.
The Vikings open the preseason Sunday at Las Vegas, but Cunningham will not attend the game.
Cunningham was hired by Gruden, who once was his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. He told the Pioneer Press last November that he never has considered Gruden, who used to attend his church regularly, a racist and reiterated that this week.
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