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“Bam,” ‘Bama: Remembering Sam “Bam” Cunningham

September 8, 2021

It is said  that former USC and then Pats running back, Sam “Bam” (last Bam) Cunningham, who died yesterday, too young at age 71, did more to integrate Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 60 years. (Of course Dr. King died at age 39). Apparently the quote was “in 20 years.”

However, this no slight to Dr. King and a realization of what makes people tick, which is so sick, that when USC came to Legion Field in Alabama and doubled the home team (42-21) with Sam scoring 2 touchdowns and gaining significant rushing yardage, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, NOT a racist, accelerated the long overdue process and brought in Black players.

In 1972 a year freshman became eligible to play (Archie Griffin was one such player) and perhaps the year a Black player was on the Alabama roster, Cunningham scored 4 touchdowns, surely most if not all in close, as USC pounded Ohio State in the Rose Bowl (no playoffs then) to complete one of the greatest title seasons ever.


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