McCullum, Sam : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

McCullum, Sam

Samuel Charles McCullum

McCallum, who played in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings, converted to Judaism while playing for the Seahawks. Sam, a solid No. 2 receiver in Seattle (the other wideout was Hall of Famer Steve Largent), was released in 1982, due to his activities as player's representative which prompted the 1982 NFL strike. Sam's son, Jamien McCullum played wide receiver at Stanford from 1998-2001. Another son, Justin McCullum is currently a receiver at Stanford.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. November 30, 1952

Career Highlights:
After a good career at Montana State, McCullum was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the ninth round (232nd overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft. During his rookie year, Sam caught seven passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns and also returned punts and kicks. The Vikings finished the season with a record of 10-4-0 (first in the NFC Central) and played in the Super Bowl. They faced the Pittsburgh Steelers, who defeated the Vikings 16-6; two players on the Steelers were defensive lineman Steve Furness (who also converted to Judaism), and rookie tight end Randy Grossman. Sam spent another season with the Vikings, who lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1975 playoffs on the famous Hail Mary play.

In 1976, McCullum was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in a veteran allocation draft. It was the Seahawks' first year of existence and Sam was a good No. 2 receiver to compliment Hall of Famer Steve Largent. That year, McCullum finished fourth on the team in receptions (32), second in yards (506) and tied for first in touchdowns (four); he also caught Jim Zorn's first career touchdown pass at the Kingdome. The Seahawks finished the season 2-12-0 and then followed by finishing 5-9-0 in 1977. Over the next four years, Sam had at least 35 catches and 500 yards every season and remained a solid counterpart to Largent; his best year was 1980, when Sam had career-highs in receptions (62), receiving yards (874), and touchdowns (six).

In 1982, McCullum had a falling out with the Seahhawks as the NFL and the NFL players union argued over the players' demands for a larger percentage of the TV-generated NFL income (the income jumped from $350,000/team in 1981 to $14 million/team in 1982). As the Seahawks' union representative, Sam was instrumental in the ceremonial "handshake" during the 1982 pre-season; in solidarity, each team would walk across the field and shake hands with the opposition. The action infuriated most coaches and owners (Don Shula fined all his players) and McCullum found himself released by Seattle.

The Seahawk players threatened to walk-out before the first game, especially because the Seahawk management had used the excuse that Sam was washed up. It was generally believed that his role as player representative was the reason for his release and he later filed a grievance. The decision was unpopular as Sam was a fan favorite and still a quality receiver (he had 46 receptions in 1981, second most on the team). Although the Seahawks played that first game, the entire league went on strike after two games. It was the first regular-season professional football strike in the history of the NFL and lasted 57 days (there was another strike in 1987).

In 1982, Sam returned to play for the Vikings after the strike ended. He played in six games (of the nine-game schedule) and caught 12 passes for 131 yards as the Vikings finished the season with a record of 5-4-0 and made the playoffs. Because of the shortened season, the NFL did not split the league into divisions, just conferences, and the Vikings finished fourth in the NFC. After defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 30-24, in the first round, they lost to the Washington Redskins, 21-7, in the second round of the playoffs.

McCallum returned to the Vikings in 1983 and caught 21 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. The team finished the season fourth in the NFC Central with a record of 8-8-0; and Sam retired following the year, having played in 129 career games.

McComb, Mississippi

Career Dates:
McCallum played wide receiver at Montana State from 1971-1973, then played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings from 1974-1975 and again from 1982-1983. He played with the Seattle Seahawks from 1976-1981.

Physical description:
6'2", 203 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 129

Receptions: 274
Receiving yards: 4,017
Receiving average: 14.7
Receiving touchdowns: 26
Fumbles: 7

Punt returns: 24
Punt return yards: 107
Punt return average: 4.5

Kick returns: 21
Kick return yards: 521
Kick return average: 24.8

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Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)
Jewish Sports Review, January/February 2001 issue (Vol. 2, No. 10, Issue 23)