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Feb 23, 2021

Clemson Athletics Black History: Bennie Cunningham

Bennie Cunningham was the first African-American Clemson football player to be named All-ACC and All-American.  He was a two-time All-American, as he was selected in 1974 and 1975.  He was named to the 1974 Associated Press All-American team and appearing on the Bob Hope Christmas Special on NBC.

Cunningham was named to the ACC’s 50-Year Anniversary team in 2003, the only tight end selected, giving him the title of the greatest ACC tight end of the first 50 years of the league.

Cunningham was a first-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976 and was named to the Steelers All-time team for the first 75 years of the franchise, one of just two tight ends selected.   He was a two-time Super Bowl Champion with the franchised.

When he retired from the NFL he returned to his hometown of Seneca and became a respected secondary educator.

Tragically, he died of cancer in August of 2018 at the age of 63.