Transcripts: Zach Cunningham Press Conference (8-31-2020)

What did it mean to you to sign a contract extension with the Texans?

"It definitely meant a lot to me. Just when I got word back that we finally got the deal done, I was just very excited. Just to take it all in, that was crazy enough for me, and then I was able to call my family and give them the news, that was definitely a big moment for me."

What do you feel like the message is from the organization to the players to get this kind of deal done in this situation?

"Just from their standpoint being able to lock me in, it kind of told me they have a great amount of trust in me. They believe in me, believe what I can do for the program. The sentiment is the same for me. I believe that I have a lot to give to the program."

What is it like to know you've created generational wealth for yourself and your family?

"It's definitely crazy, and I wouldn't have imagined growing up that I'd be in this position to be able to talk about this. So, there's definitely going to be some conversations with my family, my team that I have around me, with Athletes First and my financial advisor."

What do you think it says about your status in the NFL to become the third-highest paid linebacker in the league?

"For me, it's just amazing to be in this position. I have a lot of people to thank. The McNair family, having their trust and supporting in me. Of course, Coach (Bill) O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Athletes First, Kyle McCarthy – my agent who helped to hammer the deal down—my family and everyone else that helped to get me here. It's definitely a big experience for me. I know a lot of people have helped me to get to this point."

Did you have an 'oh wow' moment when this happened, and do you have any thoughts on what you are going to do?

"Yeah, I definitely had that 'oh wow' moment. Like I said, when I first got the call, I was very excited. I don't have any specifics yet as to what I'm going to do, but it's definitely a lot of stuff going through my mind. From where I've come from, what my family has gone through since I've grown up, definitely a lot of things I know I'll be able to do now that I'm happy about."

Can you talk about the comfort that you have playing with ILB Benardrick McKinney in the years you've been together now?

"Oh yeah, definitely got a lot of confidence. Each year we've gotten a lot better, both of us as individuals and as a duo. I feel like we've been able to grow that since I got here and basically feed off each other's energy. Stuff that we don't even have to tell each other. We don't have to actually say anything and we both just have that know-what-each-other-is-thinking type of deal."

What was something that helped you take a step forward last season?

"I guess that came with confidence, getting more in tune with the defense, more belief in myself and what I'm able to do out there on the field."

Will you still be responsible for the outfits the linebackers wear prior to games?

"We're still talking about that. I don't know if we're going to restart that up or not."

How can you improve on preventing completions over the middle this season?

"Better communication on defense. Everybody has a job to do and you've got to know what the other guys are doing around you. I definitely communication is going to play a big part in that."

What is the message that signing an extension like this sends to the people back in your hometown in Alabama?

"Definitely where I come from back in Pinson, we didn't have too many people that's been able to make it to this point. So, I definitely feel like that's encouraging for a lot of younger people back home, knowing that they can get to this point, too."

Where does this moment stack up for you in your career as a football player?

"I would definitely have to put this at the top for me."

What are some of your future goals now that you've signed a contract extension?

"For me, I've said it before, just continuous improvement on my play. Like I've said, there's plays I know I've left out there, much more plays I'm able to make. Being able to continue with that and being able to push forward and making those type of plays that I should've made and I'm able to make."

Is there a fun purchase you would now like to make?

"I was talking with the LBs, we had this idea of maybe getting dune buggies or something like that. But it might be something we do."

Who do you pattern your game after?

"I've gotten that question. Growing up I didn't really have a certain player that I really looked up to as far as my position or anyone that I patterned my game after. It was just me wanting to play football, me enjoying the game, just going out there and doing what I do."

What would you like to tell Texans fans now that you know you're going to be here long term?

"Thank you for your continued support. You've always had my back since I've gotten here, and I continue to see that with the fans. I feel like we have the best fans in the NFL. I hope that I can show you that I'm worth what they gave me. I'm going to continue to ball out for the Texans."

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