NEW YORK - Randall Cunningham, 53, still as lean and solid as a goalpost, wore his new status as proudly as he did the scarlet-and-gray cloth carnation in his sport coat's lapel.
That stylish accessory - a subtle homage to his alma mater, UNLV - was added especially for the ceremony Tuesday at the Waldorf-Astoria, where he and 15 others were introduced as the College Football Hall of Fame's newest members.
"I'm elated about this," the former Eagles quarterback said. "Once you retire comes all the good stuff."
Now that he's one of the just .0002 of a percent of college players to reach the Hall, Cunningham was asked about possible pro-football immortality in Canton.
He smiled, obviously happy to ponder the subject.
"That's a very good question," he said. "If the NFL does come around, I'd be honored to put the coat on."
He certainly could make a strong case for himself.
After all, while he was a talented and accomplished college quarterback, Cunningham's punting provided a huge assist in his College Hall selection.
In the NFL, meanwhile, although he did launch that famous 91-yard punt at the Meadowlands in 1989, he was a quarterback revolutionary, a two-time league MVP whose spectacular athleticism helped redefine the game's most important position.
"If you look at the stipulations for how a person gets in the Hall of Fame, it's based to a large extent on the influence he had on that position," Cunningham said. "So I guess if you look at it that way, you'd have to say I have a pretty good chance."
He became UNLV's first College Hall representative with some impressive and varied credentials from 1982 through 1985. He's still the school's career leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, as well as in punting average (45.6).
In fact, at times, Cunningham's punting overshadowed his passing. He was a first-team all-American only once at UNLV, as a punter in 1983.
"When I got there, they didn't even know I could punt," he said. "We were struggling with our punting, and one day, a really windy day like you get a lot in Las Vegas, I was just messing around and I was getting an extra 30 yards in the wind, booting the ball way down the field. Our coach then [Harvey Hyde] wasn't the one who recruited me and he was a little surprised. He said, 'I didn't know you punted.' "
Although his 16-year NFL career ended in 2001, Cunningham is still displaying versatility. He's a minister, a successful high school football coach - the last two years his Silverado High team has compiled a 15-7 record - and the father of perhaps the world's best female high- jumper. That schedule doesn't allow Cunningham much time for watching college and pro football.
But he has seen enough to be surprised that young NFL quarterbacks such as the Eagles' Carson Wentz and Dallas' Dak Prescott won starting jobs so early.
"They're throwing them in the fire quicker now. We live in a 'right-now' society. Fans and you people in the media want results quickly. Back in the day, you didn't rush them into the fire," he said, apparently forgetting that he started six games as an Eagles rookie in 1985, and 15 the following season.
With his free-flowing, improvisational style, powerful arm, quickness, and agility, Cunningham might have been an ideal quarterback for today's spread offenses.
"No, I'd probably still play the same way," he said. "I'd still be scared of getting hit by those big defensive linemen. I'd still move around a lot and still have a lot of fun. . . . These new offenses, they make you think a little more. I'm a more traditional, I-back, make-it-happen kind of player."
The others in the Hall's 2016 class, officially inducted at the National Football Foundation banquet Tuesday, were:
Nebraska QB Marlin Briscoe, Florida State LB Derrick Brooks, Ohio State LB Tom Cousineau, Iowa State RB Troy Davis, North Carolina DT William Fuller, Louisiana State QB Bert Jones, Wisconsin DT Tim Krumrie, Harvard TE Pat McInally, Colorado DE Herb Orvis, Ashland LB Bill Royce, Washington G Mike Utley, Georgia DB Scott Woerner, Purdue DB Rod Woodson, and two coaches - New Hampshire's Bill Bowes and Lycoming's Frank Girardi.