Former Clemson All-American tight end and two-time Super Bowl champion Bennie Cunningham has passed away.
Cunningham was 63.
The native of Seneca, S.C., passed away Monday morning. He had been battling the last several months with cancer in a Cleveland, Ohio, hospital.
“It’s a real sad day,” said former Clemson sports information director Al Adams, who worked with Cunningham when he was a two-time All-American at Clemson. “Bennie was such a great guy. He was one of the best guys I have ever known. He was so nice and would do anything for you.”
Cunningham played at Clemson from 1972-75. In 1974, he became Clemson’s first consensus All-American. He also became Clemson’s first two-time All-American after an All-American season in 1975.
Cunningham was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round with the 28th overall pick in the 1976 NFL draft. He played 11 seasons in Pittsburgh, where he helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls in 1978 and 1979. At the time of his retirement, Cunningham finished his career as the Steelers’ all-time receptions leader for a tight end.
In 2007, Cunningham was named to the Steelers’ 75th Anniversary Team. He was also enshrined in the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame and was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
After his football career, Cunningham came back to South Carolina and was a school administrator in Oconee County. He retired three years ago after a long career at West Oak High School in Westminster as a career guidance counselor.
Cunningham touched many people’s lives outside of the game of football, but he will always be beloved by Clemson fans and Steeler fans alike.