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Original Issue

Guest Columnist: LOIS SHEARER (family friend)

"I'm in publishing, but I'm a big sports fan, especially of the Eagles now," says Shearer. "I've known Randall since he was 14. His family lived down the street from mine in Santa Barbara. Now I think I'm a little bit of a mother substitute for him. The death of Randall's parents made him feel very much alone. You want your parents. With them, you always have somewhere to go, a home. Well, Randall lost that at a very bad time. Now he's the quarterback for the Eagles. The whole franchise is riding on him. I can tell you that's sometimes frightening to him.

"When we moved to Santa Barbara, my son, Judd, and Randall were both 14. Randall was enamored of Judd because Judd was from New York, hip. Later on, I got upset when they stayed out, and I was upset with Randall, but I found out that it had been Judd's doing. Randall's mother was a very strong personality. Sometimes she would call after he had been over for a while and say, 'Tell Randall to get his ass over here.' That might sound harsh, but Randall has a strong sense of values, and I think his mother imparted them. I went to his house a few times. His mother always worked. His father was in his chair, in his robe. You could tell by this point that he was not used to dressing for the day. To tell you the truth, I think at times Randall preferred to be at our house.

"There was nothing strut-around about Randall, ever. As I say, his mother gave him real values. Then later, Judd sort of drifted, and Randall took him in for a while after he moved to Philadelphia. But they had to part, amicably, because of Judd's friends. Randall doesn't feel as though he can afford to have anybody around, doing anything, because of the position he's in, being a black quarterback. And I can't say as I blame him.

"The East Coast frightened him at first. I live in Greenwich Village, in New York. Randall came to visit. He was a little nervous about going out. I said, 'Randall Cunningham, how can you not be afraid of Lawrence Taylor and be afraid to walk down the streets of New York?' He's always been sweet, quiet and polite, with a humility that he had to overcome in certain ways when he went to Philadelphia. Philadelphia fans are quick to boo, quick to give up. Randall never gives up.

"Randall is still growing, still becoming whatever it is he's going to become. Randall doesn't have a home. It's going to be very interesting and very gratifying to see how he handles life in Philadelphia."