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Lunchbreak: Cunningham has Inspiring Conversation with Adofo-Mensah Before Vikings-Eagles

When the Minnesota Vikings embark to Philadelphia for their first road trip of the season, there will be several reunions.

Linebacker Jordan Hicks was drafted by the Eagles with the 84th pick in 2015. Cornerback Chandon Sullivan also got his career started in Philadelphia in 2018. And wide receiver/punt returner Jalen Reagor spent his entire career with the Eagles before the Vikings traded for him on Aug. 31.

But there's another member of the Vikings organization who has ties to the "City of Brotherly Love." General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah grew up just outside of Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in the late 1980s and early 90s.

As a child, Adofo-Mensah watched the Eagles and his favorite player, Randall Cunningham. The former quarterback played for Philadelphia from 1985-95 and spent three seasons with the Vikings (1997-1999) before ending with stops in Dallas and Baltimore.

Adofo-Mensah, who became the first Black general manager in Vikings history earlier this year, said he drew inspiration from Cunningham because there weren't many Black quarterbacks in the NFL during that time period.

Prior to his return to Philadelphia, Adofo-Mensah reached out to Cunningham for the first time on Wednesday.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press caught up with Cunningham, who has served as a pastor for Remnant Ministries in Las Vegas since 2006. Cunningham said the interaction between him and Adofo-Mensah was amazing.

"That was a wonderful opportunity receiving a phone call from a person whom I influenced in my past at the age of about 7 years old,'' Cunningham said. "The conversation with him was just so amazing.''

Cunningham threw for 29,979 yards and 207 touchdowns in his career. He added 4,928 yards (third-most by a QB in NFL history) and 35 touchdowns on the ground.

Cunningham's best season was in 1998, when he threw for 3,704 yards and 34 touchdowns and led the Vikings to a 15-1 record. He also earned first-time All-Pro honors and one of his four career Pro Bowls that year.

"He was an incredible player, exciting, the ultimate weapon, won MVP (by the Pro Football Writers of America) in 1990," Adofo-Mensah said in March for an "Introducing" video by the Vikings Entertainment Network. "I loved watching him on Sundays. It's probably why I'm such a passionate football fan."

Adofo-Mensah added Cunningham was a pioneer during his playing days.

"That was a time where people used to call the radio station saying that, 'You know, I don't think Black people are smart enough to play quarterback,''' Adofo-Mensah said. "And you grow up in that environment. Thinking back now, that's kind of odd.

"I found myself in a lot of rooms being the only one," Adofo-Mensah continued. "That's why I always kind of saw in Randall something that I sort of saw in myself. This person who was driving against convention, doing this great thing. Just connected to him in a lot of different ways.''

Tomasson wrote that Adofo-Mensah was integrated into Cunningham's recent sermon:

Cunningham has three sermons at his church on Sunday mornings and also has a Wednesday night service. Following his talk with Adofo-Mensah, he mentioned it later that day to his congregation.

"I used it as testimony where it's like you never know when people are watching and we never know how much we influence people whether it's good or bad,'' Cunningham said. "And then [with Adofo-Mensah saying] how he grew up in New Jersey and how he just really saw someone that he could relate to and it allowed him to have hope, that's kind of what part of life is about.

"I can't say I completely influenced his life but I can tell you one thing," Cunningham added. "It's something in me that he liked. It probably was God using me at that moment to talk to him."

Tomasson added Cunningham's conversation with Adofo-Mensah inspired him to become more involved with Minnesota.

"He's really a very wise young man and he's someone I want to develop a relationship with as a fellow brother,'' Cunningham said. "I mean, he's GM of the Minnesota Vikings. He's doing big things. … I do plan on getting to a game and getting back involved with the Vikings and just supporting them.''

Cunningham said he won't be at the game on Monday in Philadelphia, but he will watch it. He added despite his conversation with Adofo-Mensah, he will continue to cheer for the Eagles.

"The thing is, I retired as a Philadelphia Eagle, so I would never turn my back on the Philadelphia Eagles," Cunningham said. "I mean, that's my roots, but I have respect for Minnesota. [Adofo-Mensah is] my Philly-Jersey brother."

View photos of Vikings players during practice on September 14 at the TCO Performance Center.

Kirk Cousins Ranked Ninth in QB Power Rankings & Head Coach Kevin O'Connell Trending up Going into Week 2

The opening week of the NFL season gave fans plenty to think about when assessing their favorite teams, coaches and players.

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports recently unveiled his quarterback power rankings going into Week 2. The weekly rankings consist of the quarterback's current status, past performance and future outlook.

Benjamin ranked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ninth and said Cousins is "for real." Benjamin wrote:

He was underrated before, but uncorked in Kevin O'Connell's contemporary attack, Cousins was remarkably efficient in a big win over the Packers. The big-game questions will remain, but he's still got such a feel for timed strikes.

Benjamin also placed Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts 13th on the list. The Vikings (1-0) will face the Eagles (1-0) on Monday Night Football at 7:30 p.m. (CT) on ABC. He wrote:

If A.J. Brown stays healthy, he might not have to try hard at all to excel as a passer. Hurts' legs remain a quietly lethal weapon, saving the Eagles on countless drives in an imperfect but promising rout of Detroit.

View photos of Kevin O'Connell from his first game as a head coach during the regular season with the team. The Vikings defeated the Packers 23-7 in this game during Week 1 of the 2022 season.

Benjamin also looked at which NFL head coaches are on the rise and others who might be falling after Week 1.

Benjamin listed Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell as "trending up." He wrote:

The NFL's second-youngest coach behind Sean McVay, O'Connell was probably the biggest winner of Week 1, not only because he routed the rival Packers, but because of how his team did it. Freeing Cousins from a conservative, old-school approach, the ex-Rams coordinator further enabled Justin Jefferson to emerge as the offensive focal point.

[The Vikings defense under] Ed Donatell was just as impressive, especially up front. Most of all, O'Connell has been lauded for the "family" atmosphere he's created in the locker room. For once, the feeling in Minnesota is that the guys in purple can escape mediocrity.