226: Ed Cunningham: From the NFL; then ESPN to winning an OSCAR! Wow..

December 10, 2021

In today’s episode of ‘Finding your Summit’ podcast, host Mark Pattison, former NFL Player, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Mountaineer who has climbed the Seven Summits, chats with guest, Ed Cunningham, a former NFL Player, Sports Announcer and Film Producer. In this episode, he talks about his exciting professional journey from a college Football Player to becoming a Film Producer.

Episode Highlights

  • 02:30 – Mark really appreciates how Ed Cunningham had so many other interests beyond just the NFL.
  • 05:00 – Ed Cunningham shares that Coach James built a structure where he had business people coming in and talking to them, They also got business cards from these business people.
  • 07:15 – Mark likes the way Ed Cunningham describes the story related to the evolution of their Head Coach, Don James.
  • 10:20 – Ed Cunningham & team redid their entire training program—from lots of hours in the weight room to more hours with plyometric running techniques, etc.
  • 12:55 – Mark asks Ed Cunningham, “What was your NFL career experience like?”
  • 14:15 – The first year Ed Cunningham was in the NFL, he had to do all the reps in every preseason game, so he was playing 50-60 snaps in a preseason game and it was just brutal.
  • 16:45 – Mark asks Ed Cunningham, “Was it hard making the decision that I needed to walk away from football to what I am going to do next?”
  • 18:00 – The summer before Ed Cunningham’s second year in the NFL, he walked into a three hour radio show and he had no idea what he was doing.
  • 20:00 – Ed Cunningham was broadcasting radio and TV Rattlers games at the time when he was on air with CBS at Georgia in September of ’97.
  • 22:00 – The audience usually grows when the game is competitive, says Ed Cunningham. So they had games where they were broadcasting like 14-15 million people by the end of the game.
  • 25:00 – The reason Ed Cunningham was leaving that job was because it was amateurs, so he felt like this is not fair to the college kids. Now that these kids can profit, he is glad that he spoke up.
  • 27:00 – Ed Cunningham has just gotten into the merchandise business—a lot of that related to sports. They have a launch coming up—a merchandise line here pretty soon.
  • 29:20 – The guest says that he didn’t make the Oscar-winning movie for money and he hasn’t made a lot of money off it.
  • 30:30 – The Oscar-winning project was the one that Ed Cunningham didn’t want to work on.
  • 33:15 – The documentary movie helped Ed Cunningham feel validated within the Hollywood world because he’d always been an outsider there.
  • 35:00 – Mark asks Ed Cunningham about examples of the biggest stars he’s been able to hang out with.
  • 38:10 – Mark also inquires about Ed Cunningham’s next projects and plans.
  • 40:30 – “Let’s Huddle with Ed Cunningham” is Ed Cunningham’s podcast, and then on Twitter: @letshuddlewith

Three Key Points

  1. Ed Cunningham reveals that his NFL career was not that great. It was bad in a couple of ways, including that he was drafted by an organization that’s now doing well—The Cardinals—but at the time, it was a family-owned operation. Also, he got into a really dysfunctional coaching situation where a few people in charge weren’t the best for the job and it was really hard.
  2. The first couple years in Arizona were really hard for Ed Cunningham. It was rough because it was a really physical game. He was a starting Centre for bad teams for four and a half seasons but he’d won a national championship in college so he got a media agent. The thing that helped was that he had done enough TV and it was good to be in a competitive market.
  3. Ed Cunningham still has interest away from sports as he has a documentary film that just came out—A World War II Veteran—a lot of it is focused around what he has done in his whole life. He thinks one of the things that he’s been able to do is stay true to what he wants to work on and be able to choose that, and that helps him because he’s always done it that way.

Tweetable Quotes

One thing I really have appreciated about you and your journey is you’ve always kept it really interesting.” – Mark Pattison

The 90 team I think was actually better than the 91 team.” – Ed Cunningham

The unique part is we did both, we did life and we did football full time.” – Ed Cunningham

So it would have been great to have been part of an offence like that.” – Mark Pattison

I was there when it all happened in 80, 89, and 90.” – Ed Cunningham

It was just shocking how many guys looked and played like Steve Madden in the NFL.” – Ed Cunningham

When I got into the NFL, it was every guy you play could run over anytime they wanted to.” – Mark Pattison

I had to host 2 hours and 45 minutes on a huge radio station in a big market.” – Ed Cunningham

I wanted to because I wasn’t a big deal in the NFL.” – Ed Cunningham

My first shout out of the NFL was right to CBS was amazing.” – Ed Cunningham

When I lost ESPN 2017, I left my last season in 2016; I shared my story about my concern for the safety of the players.” – Ed Cunningham

How we’re going to replace that pipeline, I mean, what was going through your mind there?” – Mark Pattison

Almost everything I work on has some type of football connection.” – Ed Cunningham

I think I got 1200 texts in three hours.” – Ed Cunningham

That night in particular was the perfect combination of my worlds.” – Ed Cunningham

There are places that do sports, but most of Hollywood doesn’t really care.” – Ed Cunningham

Anything you do—Football, Hollywood, whatever—walk in the room and have a presence about you.” – Ed Cunningham

We have this really great, unique story, and it’s really uplifting—called Jerry’s Last Mission.” – Ed Cunningham

 

Resources Mentioned

“Let’s Huddle with Ed Cunningham” Podcast | Apple | Spotify

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