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October 23, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

Ray Brewer:

Randall Cunningham’s faith, devotion to children will give him strength

Image

Associated Press

This photo made Sept. 27, 2009, shows former Philadelphia Eagles football player Randall Cunningham holding his son, Christian, during halftime of an NFL football game, in Philadelphia. The 2-year-old son of former NFL star quarterback Randall Cunningham has died in what authorities on Wednesday, June 30, 2010, called an apparent backyard hot tub accident, in Las Vegas. The Clark County coroner’s office identified the child as Christian Cunningham, and said the cause of death was pending.

Christian Cunningham

This photo made Sept. 27, 2009, shows former Philadelphia Eagles football player Randall Cunningham giving his son, Christian, a football during halftime of an NFL football game, in Philadelphia. The 2-year-old son of former NFL star quarterback Randall Cunningham has died in what authorities on Wednesday, June 30, 2010, called an apparent backyard hot tub accident, in Las Vegas. The Clark County coroner's office identified the child as Christian Cunningham, and said the cause of death was pending. Launch slideshow »

If you ask Randall Cunningham how many children he has, the former UNLV and NFL star quarterback's response might surprise you: "I have about 150 kids," he told me Monday.

Cunningham, a pastor at Remnant Ministries in the Silverado Ranch area of Las Vegas, considers all of the children he ministers to be like his own, of which he has four.

Like any proud parent, he never hesitates spending time at youth sporting events, graduations and other community socials to show his support for the children at his church.

On Tuesday, it was the families he ministers to who showed their support.

Cunningham's 2-year-old son Christian died in what authorities called an apparent backyard hot tub accident. The coroner hasn't made a ruling on the cause of death.

I spent Monday morning with Cunningham at Silverado High, where he has been part of the football coaching staff since January, working mainly as the offensive coordinator. A story on how he is adjusting to the high-school game was scheduled to run next week.

It was easy to tell why Cunningham has become popular with children. It's something he takes great pride in, a responsibility to this world he cherishes and excels at.

"This is what God is calling me to do," he said. "I'm here to take the kids to another level. I love working with kids. I believe in them."

He is more concerned with helping children become productive members of society than he is designing plays to help Silverado win on Friday nights. All indications point to him doing a good job at that, too.

Other coaches rave about how Cunningham hasn't missed a day since he joined the staff. He is often the last to leave after giving individual attention to the players and spending extra time studying game film.

He's also trained with quarterbacks from rival schools, including helping Troy Miller of Southeast Division rival Del Sol.

Unfortunately, Cunningham's first day off was Tuesday, when he was out of town for a NFL physical as part of his league retirement.

Randall Jr., his oldest son, will be a freshman at Silverado in the fall. He's already 6-feet tall and has received a handful of college recruiting letters. Just like his dad, Randall Jr. appears to have dynamic speed.

Cunningham brags how his son already is rated as one of the nation's top quarterbacks for his age group.

He equally bragged about Christian.

Cunningham already sensed that Christian would also play football, telling a story about how his son's eyes would light up when seeing a football jersey while shopping with his wife.

Christian was too young to know of his dad's exploits in the game. Rather, dad suggested he was interested in football because that is what his older brother did.

The smile on Cunningham's face when he spoke of his youngest son is something that immediately popped into my head when I heard the news of the accident. It's something that is tragic, but something I know Cunningham will get through.

His strong faith will prevail and his love for children never will waver.