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Ten Minutes with Richie Cunningham

NFL pro turned pharmaceutical CEO



Photo by Stan Godlewski

Richie Cunningham spent the 1990s seesawing between the life of a pro athlete and that of a healthcare executive. So how does he end up here: an All-Pro NFL placekicker from Louisiana who is now CEO of Icagen, a North Carolina–based pharmaceutical company that specializes in early drug discovery? We sat down with Cunningham to trace the arc of his fascinating career—from the Dallas Cowboys to Boehringer Ingelheim, which brought him to Ridgefield. 

Your career has taken an unusual path. Help us connect the dots. 
I grew up in south Louisiana, and most of the kids there went into the oil or seafood industry. Sports were an escape for me. I played baseball at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which paid for my books. And I walked onto the football team. I probably only kicked 12 field goals my entire college career.  

So how did you turn pro?
After college, I flew around to tryouts, slept in my car, put myself into debt. I got invited to camp for the Cowboys in 1994, worked my way up to number one, and then missed a couple of 52-yard kicks in preseason. So I missed the team. 

Was that a big disappointment?
That was the best thing that could have happened to me. I never wanted to forsake my career for something that was a long shot. And I had a background in marketing, so I got a job in San Diego with a medical company. My boss there—a mentor of mine—told me I shouldn’t give up on the NFL. I almost made the Packers in 1996, and then landed the starting job for the Cowboys in 1997. 

You played on a team with Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, and Herschel Walker, but only you and Deion Sanders made All-Pro. Ever tease your teammates about that? 
Ha! No. At that point I knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I knew it would be short-lived, so in the off-season I went back to California and worked full-time. 

How are things in an NFL locker room for a placekicker named Richie Cunningham? 
Personalities are different in the locker room than in front of the camera. Deion in Dallas and Reggie White in Carolina were the nicest guys. A lot of kickers keep to themselves, but when I went to the Cowboys, I wanted them to know that I worked as hard as everyone else. I would pull the sleds. I would run the scout-team quarterback. And yes, they called me Opie. 

What was the most pressure-packed kick you made in the NFL? 
My first one! It was 1997, Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh. And it was, you guessed it, a 52-yarder from the left hash. 

How did dealing with that pressure help in your business career?
Well, my whole NFL career helped me. Nothing ever comes easy in business. There is always a challenge, always stress. It comes down to who can remain composed in those situations. 

If or when the Affordable Care Act is repealed, how will that affect Icagen?
I don’t think it will impact us too much. The bottom line is that, for many people, pharmaceuticals provide the most effective way to manage care outside of healthy living. So we’re in favor of anything that increases the access to life-saving drugs.

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June 2018

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Red Bee Apiary's Talk, Tour & Honey Tastings are an opportunity to visit a working apiary and experience honey at its source. Take a tour of Red Bee's apiary and gardens, once...

Cost: $35

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

Come for an afternoon of art making inspired by the new installation of work by Richard McGuire. View McGuire’s fun and fantastical exploration of shoes and their unique designs, and create a...

Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Alan Sklar, a well known voice actor, will be reading short stories by Neil Gaiman. Alan Sklar has been a freelance voice actor for over twenty-five years, voicing radio/TV commercials and VNRs,...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Alan Sklar has been a freelance voice actor for over 25 years, voicing radio/TV commercials and VNRs, narrating everything from audio books and documentaries to thousands of corporate and medical...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Dads climb free with a paid climber using promo code DAD18. Kids get to write a special note to Dad on our Father’s Day chalkboard, too!

Cost: Ages 5-6: $32 Ages 7-9: $39 Ages 10-11: $48 12 & Up: $54

Where:
Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum
4450 Park Ave
Bridgeport, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

For it’s final 2017-18 Main Stage production, The Schoolhouse Theatre presents a new play from the multi-award winning playwright Deborah Savadge. The Dog in the Dressing...

Cost: $38

Where:
Schoolhouse Theatre
3 Owens Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

A hands-on introduction to woodworking for kids! In this 4-day afternoon camp, kids will plan and create a one-of-a-kind project such as a wooden stool. Skills include sanding, drilling with a...

Cost: Fee: $210 / $190 for family members (supplies included)

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Cener
681 South Ave
Waveny Park
New Canaan , CT  06840
View map »


Telephone: 203-594-3638
Website »

More information

Doyle Coffin Architecture Singer-Songwriter Series A little more than 50 years ago, singer-songwriter Stephen Stills met singer-songwriter Judy Collins, known for her piercing ocean blue eyes....

Cost: $130.00

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Move. Connect. Give Back. Every Monday in June, Lauren Chiarello of Chi Chi Life will lead a 45-minute Pilates Fusion Class to benefit The Prospector Ridgefield. ABOUT PILATES...

Cost: Suggested donation: $15

Where:
Ballard Park
485 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

A hands-on introduction to woodworking for kids! In this 4-day afternoon camp, kids will plan and create a one-of-a-kind project such as a wooden stool. Skills include sanding, drilling with a...

Cost: Fee: $210 / $190 for family members (supplies included)

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Cener
681 South Ave
Waveny Park
New Canaan , CT  06840
View map »


Telephone: 203-594-3638
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Music on the Hill welcomes musicians and ringers of all levels for this "hands on" workshop. Artistic Director Ellen Dickinson leads two Tuesday evening sessions to build joy and...

Cost: free

Where:
WEPCO Church Complex
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Ellen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

A hands-on introduction to woodworking for kids! In this 4-day afternoon camp, kids will plan and create a one-of-a-kind project such as a wooden stool. Skills include sanding, drilling with a...

Cost: Fee: $210 / $190 for family members (supplies included)

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Cener
681 South Ave
Waveny Park
New Canaan , CT  06840
View map »


Telephone: 203-594-3638
Website »

More information

Join RVNA and our celebrated guest bartenders Shane Casey of Casey Energy, Jared Kurtz of the RVNA Marketing Committee, and RVNA’s own Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator, Meg...

Cost: No entry fee. Pay for your own food and drinks.

Where:
Gallo Ristorante
5 Grove Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

A hands-on introduction to woodworking for kids! In this 4-day afternoon camp, kids will plan and create a one-of-a-kind project such as a wooden stool. Skills include sanding, drilling with a...

Cost: Fee: $210 / $190 for family members (supplies included)

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Cener
681 South Ave
Waveny Park
New Canaan , CT  06840
View map »


Telephone: 203-594-3638
Website »

More information

Trace Adkins’ trademark baritone has powered countless hits to the top of the charts, including “You’re Gonna Miss This,” “Arlington,” “Every Light In the...

Cost: $150

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Playhouse Marketing
Telephone: (203) 438-5795
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

For it’s final 2017-18 Main Stage production, The Schoolhouse Theatre presents a new play from the multi-award winning playwright Deborah Savadge. The Dog in the Dressing...

Cost: $38

Where:
Schoolhouse Theatre
3 Owens Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Gary Gulman is a New York-based stand-up comedian, who is one of only a handful to perform on every single late night program. He has released four comedy albums and two of his hour-long specials,...

Cost: $30

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Playhouse Marketing
Telephone: (203) 438-5795
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

For it’s final 2017-18 Main Stage production, The Schoolhouse Theatre presents a new play from the multi-award winning playwright Deborah Savadge. The Dog in the Dressing...

Cost: $38

Where:
Schoolhouse Theatre
3 Owens Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ayurveda is thought to be the world’s oldest healing system and is referred to as “mother of all sciences.” It encompasses life in its totality and epitomizes a true body-mind...

Cost: Free

Where:
Somers Library
82 Primrose St
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Dr. Somesh N. Kaushik
Telephone: 914-875-9088
Contact Name: Dr. Somesh N. Kaushik
Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Gallery 25 artists will present a summer show from May 24 entitled “Our Towns”. This show celebrates the beauty of towns in western Connecticut or the uniqueness of the landscape....

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Gallery 25 at New Milford Art Depot
11 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Gallery 25
Telephone: 860-355-6009
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Photo Op Upgrade Package Available! Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo have formed one of the most successful partnerships in music history.  During their nearly four-decade career, they have won...

Cost: $125

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Do you wish you could read great literature but fear you just can't fit it in? Do you join book clubs only to find yourself not having enough time to read through the entire book? Do you love a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Danbury Library- Lower Level Meeting Room
170 Main St
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

For it’s final 2017-18 Main Stage production, The Schoolhouse Theatre presents a new play from the multi-award winning playwright Deborah Savadge. The Dog in the Dressing...

Cost: $38

Where:
Schoolhouse Theatre
3 Owens Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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