In a candid if once-over-lightly effort, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Cunningham tells his side of the story of the firing of coach Buddy Ryan, the controversy over Cunningham's replacement by Jim McMahon, Cunningham's volatile relationship with his teammates, and his record-setting performances on the field. Alternating passages with coauthor Wartenberg (Winning Is an Attitude, 1991), Cunningham describes growing up in a racially mixed Santa Barbara neighborhood as the youngest of four brothers, the oldest of whom was former NFL star Sam ``Bam'' Cunningham. A second-round draft pick in 1985, the author was starting games for the Eagles in just his second season; when Ron Jaworski was released in 1987, Cunningham was named the Eagles' top quarterback. His 1988 $4 million contract made him the highest paid player in the NFL and, in 1989, he was given a five-year extension worth $18- 22 million. Despite what the press reported in 1990 about Buddy Ryan's firing, Cunningham states that he in no way lobbied management to replace the coach with Rich Kotite—and that Ryan ``is the man who made me what I am today.'' That season saw the scrambling Cunningham (who prefers being tackled ``by a 190-pound cornerback'' to staying in the ``pocket where big, sloppy, nasty 300-pound guys hit you at full speed'') throw 30 touchdown passes and rush for 942 yards (``I amaze myself!''). He holds the all-time rushing record for quarterbacks, having managed in just seven seasons to break Fran Tarkenton's record. Cunningham sat out most of 1991 with a severe knee injury, and his comeback in 1992 was marked by extreme ups and downs including being benched in favor of the high-profile McMahon and catching some sharp criticism from his teammates regarding his ego. While Cunningham seemingly tries to respond to his critics here, not sidestepping the tough questions, his answers ring a little hollow and self-serving, even for a sports memoir.
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