Clemson and Steelers great Bennie Cunningham succumbs to cancer

Published on Monday, April 23, 2018

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Clemson and Steelers great Bennie Cunningham succumbs to cancer
Clemson and Pittsburgh Steelers great Bennie Cunningham, 63, passed away Monday morning at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio where he had been fighting cancer.

 A Seneca native, Cunningham played at Clemson from 1972-75 and was a two-time, first-team All-American. He was the first African-American football player to make an All-America team in school history. He was also the first African-American to win the Frank Howard Award, a Clemson athletic department honor presented to an athlete each year for “bringing honor to Clemson.”

He was a consensus All-American as a junior in 1974, when he was a first-team selection by AP, UPI, AFCA and Sporting News. He was named first-team All-American by Walter Camp Foundation and Sporting News in 1975.

A two-time, First-Team All-ACC selection, Cunningham was the only tight end named to the ACC's 50-Year Anniversary team in 2003.

“Bennie Cunningham was one of our greatest players, arguably the greatest tight end in our history and ACC history,” said head coach Dabo Swinney. “He set the standard  for players at that position. But more importantly was the way he represented Clemson as a professional athlete and in his life after football. With his passing, the Clemson football program remembers him and his family with highest regard today.”

Cunningham returned to the Clemson area after his playing days and earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree in secondary education. He had a long career as a guidance counselor at West Oak High School in Westminster.

Source: Clemson Athletic Communications



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