More on Cunningham
One more Gunther Cunningham tidbit for the day, this one courtesy of former Chiefs quarterback Rich Gannon, now a CBS analyst.
Gannon spent four seasons in Kansas City when Cunningham was defensive coordinator from 1995-98. He told me today that Cunningham and then coach Marty Schottenheimer ran some of the most physical, intense and competitive practices he's ever seen in the NFL.
I think he's toned it down a little bit but I can remember not physical confrontations but verbal confrontations on the practice field were very common between the offensive line and Gunther, Gannon said. Guys like (Dave) Szott and (Tim) Grunhard, he knew how to get under their skin. But Gunther loved it. He challenged them.
Anything more than five or six yards and they were over there yelling 'Gunther, where's your defense? Where's your run defense?' But that's how he wanted it. He wanted to create an attitude, he wanted to be physical and he did that.
Gannon, who played against Cunningham-led defenses as a Raider, said Cunningham was always a bear to prepare for as an opponent but someone you knew was one your side as an assistant. He said he and Cunningham even butted heads when he was running the scout team in Kansas City.
The great thing about him was he's a very observant guy, Gannon said. If he felt he could help you, even if you weren't one of his guys, a defensive player, he got it. He realized that. He saw the big picture. He'd say things to me all the time about footwork or 'Why'd you throw it there?' He'd ask and then he'd go back and try to figure out why I'd try to jam one into two-deep coverage.
He's very creative and I think the players up there will respond to him.