``Wow! What a thrill. Ever since I read the message, I've been thinking about all the guys I played with who should be in the Hall of Fame and aren't. I won't name them because I might leave someone out.
``It's been a long wait, but it was worth it. It's great to be a Trojan.''
For those of you who believe Cunningham's selection is a result of his performance in the ``game that integrated Alabama football'' (1970 in Birmingh am) or his four-touchdown Rose Bowl performance in the ‘73 stomping of Ohio State in Pasadena, Sam's former teammate, Lynn Swann, wants to set the record straight.
Swannie, who's in the College and Professional Halls of Fame, told me this in a phone call after I'd talked to Cunningham: ``Let's get this right. Sam is going in because he's a Hall of Fame football player, not because of two events during his career. I'm so happy for my old teammate. I've never been around a better football player than Sam.''
Just so you know how all this occurred, let the word go forth that Swann led the initial charge. In the 2006 book I co-authored with Steve Bisheff (``Fight On! A Colorful Story of USC Football''), Lynn is quoted as saying: ``I'm embarrassed to be in the College Football Hall of Fame before my old USC teammate, Sam Cunningham.") Swann kicked off the Cunningham Hall of Fame campaign about two years ago and has been unrelenting in contacting key people.
``Sam called me after he got the word,'' Swann said. ``He was thrilled, but he couldn't have been any more thrilled than I was.''
For those who haven't had the good fortune of meeting and knowing Sam Cunningham, well, he's just as nice a person as he is a football player. And former USC track and field coach Vern Wolfe said Sam might have won an Olympic gold medal in the decathlon if he'd ever had the time to prepare for all the events. ``He's one of the best athletes I've ever seen,'' Wolfe said.
So, it's a great time for all Trojans. Fight on!