Sports stars turned politicians
After a career in sports, check out what athletes turned to politics once they retired. Compiled by Matt Saur
Dave Bing- Named the 1966 NBA Rookie of the Year with the Detroit Pistons, it was just a sign of things to come for Bing. He averaged 20.3 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game during his 13 years with the Pistons, Bullets and Celtics. Along the way, he made seven All-Star games, won the 1976 MVP and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990. (Politics)
In 2008, Bing beat out Kenneth Cockrel Jr. to become Mayor of Detroit.
Bill Bradley was a three-time All American forward at Princeton and won the National Player of the Year award in 1965. An Olympic gold-medalist with 1964 basketball team, Bradley was drafted by the Knicks in 1965 and signed with the team in 1967. He spent his entire career with the Knicks (1967-77) and won NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.
Jim Bunning played 17 seasons from 1955-1971 with the Tigers, Phillies, Pirates and Dodgers. On June 21, 1964, Bunning tossed a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium. He currently ranks 17th on the all-time strikeout list with 2,855.. In 1996, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
He was a city councilman in Kentucky and moved up to state senate as a minority leader. In 1986, he was elected to the House of Representatives, and in 1999, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, a seat he held until choosing not to seek another re-election in 2011.
Ben "Night Horse" Campbell competed for Team USA in judo in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
He began his political career in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987, representing Colorado. In 1993, he became the third Native American to win election to the U.S. Senate. Campbell continued to serve in the Senate until 2005.
Dwight Eisenhower played varsity football at West Point and in 1912 started at running back and linebacker. During the season, he attempted to tackle the legendary Jim Thorpe, but hurt his knee on the play. Eisenhower’s football career was cut short later after breaking his leg, but stayed with the game and coached the junior varsity team. He never turned pro, but the soon-to-be president was an avid golfer and joined the Augusta National Golf Club in 1948.
In 1953, Eisenhower was elected the 34th president of the United States. He created the departments of health, education and welfare. One of his biggest accomplishments in office was creating the interstate highway system. Eisenhower was the first president to be effected by the two-term rule ending his presidency in 1961 .
Gerald Ford- While at the University of Michigan, Ford led the Wolverines to a pair of undefeated seasons in 1932-‘33. Ford was a versatile athlete, playing both center and linebacker. In 1994, the University of Michigan retired his No. 48 jersey.
From 1949-1973 Ford was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Michigan. Ford was tapped as Richard Nixon’s Vice President late in 1973 after Spiro Agnew was forced to step down. One year later, he would become the 38th president when Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal. One of his first acts as president was pardoning Nixon for his crimes. Ford would end the Vietnam War in 1975. He lost to Georgia governor Jimmy Carter in 1977.
Kevin Johnson- Drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 1987 draft, Johnson would be traded to the Phoenix Suns where he had the most success. As a top point guard in the NBA from 1987-2000, Johnson played in three All-Star games and led the Suns to 11 playoff appearances.
Born and raised in Sacramento, Calif., Johnson became mayor of the city in 2008 as a Democrat, making him the first African-American mayor in the citiy’s history. He was largely responsible for working to keep the NBA’s Kings in Sacramento in 2011.
Jack Kemp was cut by four NFL teams (Lions, Steelers, 49ers and Giants) before he got the chance to start in the AFL. Beginning his AFL career with the Chargers in 1960, Kemp led the team to Western Division Championships in his first two seasons and a division title in his third year. He would get picked up by the Buffalo Bills and go on to win two AFL Championship games (1964 and 1965).
From 1971-1989, Kemp served as a congressman for Western New York’s 31st congressional district. In 1988, he ran for president, but settled for being the housing secretary under President George H.W. Bush until 1993. In 1996, he was the presidential running mate of Sen. Bob Dole’s campaign, but lost to Bill Clinton.
Steve Largent- An All-American in college with the University of Tulsa, Largent would go on to set NFL receiving records for consecutive games with a catch (177), most touchdown catches (100) and most receptions (819) during his 13 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Since his retirement in 1989, all his records have been broken. In 1995, he was the first Seahawk to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tom Osborne played just three seasons with the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers before turning to coaching. Starting out as an unpaid coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Osborne worked head coach of the team in 1973 and won threenational championships (1994, 1995, and 1997) before retiring after the 1997 season. Osborne returned as Nebraska’s athletic director in 2007.
In 2000, less than three years removed from coaching the Cornhuskers, Osborne decided to make a run at becoming a member of the House of Representatives as a Republican. Due to his popularity in the state from his coaching career, he easily won and stayed a member until 2007. In 2006, Osborne ran for Governor of Nebraska but lost.
Ronald Reagan- During his time at Eureka College, he played on the football team and was the captain of the swimming team. After his college days, he would broadcast Chicago Cubs games in Des Moines on WHO radio.
After his days of playing sports, broadcasting and acting, Reagan went into politics. He became governor of California from 1967-1975 and then the 40th president of the United States from 1981-1989. During his two terms as president, he ended the Cold War and was considered a great communicator to the American people.
Jon Runyan- One of the best offensive linemen of the 2000s, Runyan was drafted by the Houston Oilers. He also played for the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, where he had memorable battles (both with words and with his play) with the Giants’ Michael Strahan.
Runyan turned to politics once his NFL career ended due to a knee injury. In 2010, he won a seat for the New Jersey House of Representatives. The Republican and former Pro Bowler became just the fourth NFL player elected to Congress.
Arnold Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Universe title at age 20, and would go on to win Mr. Olympia seven times. Schwarzenegger had such an impact of the sport that in 1989, they began a competition called the “Arnold Classic” that is considered one of the most prestigious competitions to win.
Elected governor of California in 2003, becoming the first foreign-born governor in the state since 1862. “The Governator” served a second term, and during his seven years, he made sure illegal immigrants did not get driver’s licenses, vetoed numerous same-sex marriage bills and raised the minimum wage $1.75 during his term.
Heath Shuler- Selected by the Washington Redskins third overall in the 1994 Draft as a quarterback out of Tennessee, Shuler’s NFL career got off to a rough start when he held out of training camp with a contract dispute. Once the contract was resolved, Shuler played poorly and was replaced at quarterback. Shuler got a few more chances to start but each time played poorly. He is known for being one of the biggest busts in draft history.
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives for North Carolina since 2007, he is a member of the Democratic Party. Shuler had made a strong stance against abortion, illegal immigrants and gun control.
Jesse Venutra was a multiple-time tag-team champion in WWF in the 1980's. With his colorful pro wrestling persona, one that included bright neon colors and feathered boas, Ventura had a long-term feud going with Hulk Hogan. In 2004 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Beginning his political career in Brooklyn Park, Minn., as the Mayor in 1991, Ventura did not stop there. In 1998, he was elected governor of Minnesota by a slim margin. He didn’t attempt to run for a second term.
Sam Wyche- After seven seasons in the NFL as a quarterback with four separate teams, Wyche was hired by the 49ers as an assistant coach. By 1984, he was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 1988. Wyche is credited as being the first coach to integrate the no-huddle offense.
In November 2008, Wyche became a member of the Picken County, S.C., council.