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Top 10 Pro Athletes Who Transitioned to Politics

Waste some time during self-quarantine watching highlights of the top 10 athletes who went on to make it pretty far in the political world...

#10 - JC Watts

Technically a pro athlete, because he played for the Ottawa Rough Riders. JC (Julius Caesar) Watts went on to serve 8 years as a Republican Representative from Oklahoma’s 4th District, representing South Oklahoma City and the surrounding counties. Here’s a video of Watts at QB for the Oklahoma Sooners beating Florida State in the 1980 Orange Bowl:

#9 - Jon Runyan

Longtime NFL Offensive Tackle, best known for his time on the Eagles, Jon Runyan is a mountain of a man who easily jumped right into politics as as a US Representative from the 3rd district of New Jersey. He only served 4 years as a Republican before jumping ship to work with a guy he kind of looks like a giant version of, Roger Goodell at the NFL front office. Here’s Runyan rocking #69 for the Birds and taking a hilarious diving cheap shot at a linebacker (John Madden on the call):

#8 - Mo Udall

Our first Democrat makes the list, old-school Basketball Player and 30 year US Representative from Arizona’s 2nd District comprised mostly of Tucson. Udall was in the Air Force before he played for the Denver Nuggets for 1 year in 1948-49, but he and the team were terrible, so he quit and went into law and politics where he chaired the House Interior Committee from 1977 to 1991. That's a lot of history he touched.

#7 - Jim Bunning

Next up, a legend on the mound and both chambers of the US Congress, Jim Bunning. He was a starting pitcher in the MLB from ‘55-71, then a Republican Representative and Senator from Kentucky for 24 years. Here’s a tribute video to Jim from the Phillies when they retired his jersey in 2001:

#6 - Jack Kemp

Another Republican QB, Jack Kemp, was a dual threat for the Buffalo Bills the entire time they were in the AFL, taking home the AFL MVP Trophy in 1965. Kent then went on to serve as a Representative from New York for 18 years, before becoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Bush #1. Here’s Jack Kemp’s eulogy video from the NFL with some of his highlights:

#5 - Dwayne Woodruff

Here’s a player who was a monster on the field, winning a Super Bowl with the Steelers during his career, and taking home the 1982 team MVP trophy as a Cornerback. After football, Dwayne went into law, and in 2006 he assumed the role of Judge in the Common Pleas Court in Allegheny County, PA. He was so good for the Stillers, here’s a video of him being their best defensive player at age 32:

#4 - Jesse “The Body” Ventura

A man who probably needs no introduction to most, he was an accomplished Professional Wrestler and actor before becoming one of the most hilarious governors in American history. Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, and an Independent like Dwayne Woodruff at #5, and is continually teasing runs for President with his “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” style. Here’s the Body taking on Hulk Hogan in his prime:

#3 - Bill Bradley

A former Small Forward on the Knicks with an NBA Championship, a gold medal, and a European Championship earlier in his career; Bill Bradley then went on to be a Democratic Senator from New Jersey for 18 years. Bradley even almost made a run for President in 2000, but he couldn’t beat Al Gore in the primary process. Here’s the only highlight video I could find for Bill:

#2 - Steve Largeant

This guy barely missed out on the #1 transition from Pro sports to big-boy politics - I’ve got his poster hanging in my studio he’s so good. Like the #1 on this list, he’s an NFL Hall of Famer, and went into politics after his time in the league. Largeant served as Republican Representative from Tulsa, OK for 8 years, before moving into lobbying. Largeant racked up 13K receiving yards, 100 TDs, and 3 re-elections in the House of Reps before losing the Oklahoma Governor race to a guy who supported legal cockfighting. He only lost the race by 7K votes statewide, and it’s thought that the strong cockfighting syndicate in Oklahoma is what did him in. Didn’t matter for Steve though, he then made the lucrative career move to lead a non-profit organization that represents wireless carriers in Washington, DC from ‘03-’14… and not sure if you know this but they made smart-phones during that time. I can’t know for sure but I’d bet that Steve Largeant had a good last 11 years before retirement. Here’s the man himself dominating DBs for the Seattle Seahawks as an undersized NFL receiver: 

#1 - Alan Page

Alan Page was a Defensive Tackle on the vaunted “Purple People Eaters” Minnesota Vikings Defense, and later in his career for the Bears. Page was a 9 time NFL Pro-Bowler and the League MVP in 1971, Hall of Famer, an absolute BEAST on the gridiron. Then he went on to a career in law where he worked his way up to being elected as a Minnesota State Supreme Court Justice for 22 years (Independent), retiring in 2015. Page is such an awesome human he was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2018 for his lifetime achievements as an American. Here’s Alan Page dominating the NFL - nobody could block this guy from doing anything he wanted, on or off the field:

Other notable transitions are Kevin Johnson (NBA) and Heath Schuler (NFL), but those weren’t quite good enough to make the list. We’ve got some new blood from the NFL in the House of Reps these days with Colin Allred (D-TX) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) in there. Finally, here’s the guys I’m thinking may be next: Tim Tebow, The Bosa Bros, RG3, Michael Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald… who else, and when are we gonna get a woman on the list?

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