PHILADELPHIA -- The signs draped Veterans Stadium like epitaphs for the old Randall Cunningham. They served to mourn the quarterback who once played with such reckless passion, and to scorn the tentative, hypersensitive Cunningham on display recently.
"The Birds need Bubby not Baby," was one of the kinder banner messages directed at the benched Eagles quarterback. "Hey Randall go punt in the AFC." "Randall Don't Let the Door Hit You in the rear."
While he never glanced up at them as he prowled the sideline, he couldn't escape the cries of "Bubby, Bubby" that arose periodically during what was likely Cunningham's final home game as an Eagle.
"From the way it went today, it didn't seem too good. They want Bubby, so maybe the better thing to do is for Bubby to come back," Cunningham said. "Most of the fans that were here today cheered Bubby, and that's great."
And then, for just a moment, he reflected on happier moments in Philadelphia, when it appeared certain this gifted athlete would be the prototype for the 1990s quarterback.
"I remember," he said of the fans' lusty chants for Bubby Brister, "that at one point in time that was me they were cheering for. That's a great feeling."
That point in time seemed terribly long ago during the Eagles' season-killing, 16-13 loss to the Giants.
Cunningham spent the afternoon roaming the sideline alone, dressed in a blank silver jacket while his teammates wore coats of green and silver with "Eagles" displayed prominently on their backs.
Occasionally, and ironically, he reclined on the heated "Hot Seat," and when the game ended, after hearing words of support from Giants such as Mike Sherrard, he knelt at midfield and prayed.
It very likely was a benediction for Cunningham's Philadelphia career, although he said he would not address that topic until season's end.
"Whatever happens, happens," he said. "I just want to do what's best for myself and my wife. . ."
In what Cunningham called one of his worst weeks in a decade as an Eagle -- a week when he reacted angrily, and some would argue childishly, to Rich Kotite's decision to start Brister -- he said a part of him died. No longer, he vowed, would he criticize a coach or teammate.
"All of this Randall Cunningham-Rich Kotite hype is over with. . . I want to be as classy as I can about this," Cunningham said. "I don't want you guys to make me look bad anymore. I've seen some of the stuff that's been written, and you take what I say and make it look bad. I'm all positive now.
"For the rest of the year, for the rest of my career, I don't ever want to say anything negative toward anybody. It just got out of hand this week. . . I called WIP, apologized for my actions and stood up as a man. And I don't have anything bad to say about anybody."
Cunningham passed at every oportunity to gloat, refusing even to comment about how Philadelphia's sluggish offense looked.