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Chillin' with Dylan—Athletes in Politics

November 8, 2012

By DYLAN MALONE
    I'm going to keep my opinions on the election to myself despite an enormous strain on my conscience.
    I decided instead to highlight some of the more interesting figures in the sports world who then transitioned to the political realm. No, Arnold Schwarzenegger will not make an appearance on this list. I know he's a body-builder but until they put the World Series of Body-Building on national television I just don't see the connection.
    Athletes seem to have a limited amount of usefulness after 40 and sometimes have difficulty finding their niche. A lot of retired sports stars jump immediately into coaching of some kind. Others manage to find a way into sports-casting or radio. Still, there are some who simply fade in the wind never to be heard from again unless ESPN is doing a short film about them in their 30 for 30 series.
    The following athletes rose above their calling of sports after they retired and now (or did) hold a political office in the advancement of our great nation.

    Bill Bradley-former NBA forward- Bradley went to Princeton (which should have been a good hint that the guy had a brain) where he was a three-time All-American and the 1965 National Player of the Year. In the NBA, he played for 10 years earning two titles with the New York Knicks ('70, '73) and he eventually made the Hall of Fame.
    1978-Bradley was the senator of New Jersey serving for 18 years. In 2000, Bradley tried to earn a Democratic nomination for president but failed.

    Lynn Swann—former NFL receiver- Lynn was one of the perfecters of the over-the-shoulder catch as a wide receiver playing in the league from 1974-82 (mostly for the Steelers). He was a four-time Super Bowl champion and a three-time Pro-Bowler eventually landing in the Hall in 2001.
    2006-As a politician five years removed from his H of F ballot, Swann was the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor.

    Kevin Johnson—former NBA guard—Johnson was a three-time All-Star point guard playing most of his career with the Phoenix Suns. In his time in the NBA, he was one of three players in history to average 20 points and 12 assists in an entire season. For the Suns he is the all-time leader in assists, free throws made and free throws attempted, while making an appearance on the second Dream Team in the 1994 FIBA World Championships.    
    2008—Kevin became the first African-American to be elected mayor in the city of Sacramento, a position he still holds today. Recently, Johnson has been working side by side with the Kings to keep the franchise in the city.

    3-Way Tie—former football players—Three former Presidents all get a nod here for their playing of the pigskin. Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan all were successful athletes before their time in the Oval Office.    
    1912—Eisenhower, Prez from 1953-61, was a running back and linebacker in 1912 on the West Point squad. His most famous tackle came against Jim Thorpe who would go on to be a legend in the NFL.
    1932—Ford, Vice-President to Nixon in 1973 and Prez in 1974 after Watergate, played center and linebacker for Michigan. He led the team to undefeated seasons and two national titles in '32 and '33.
    1927—Reagan, Gov. of California in '67-'75 & Prez from '81-89, played football at Eureka College. He also happened to be the captain of the swim team.

    Jack Kemp—former AFL QB—Kemp played 13 seasons in the AFL winning two championships in a row ('64-'65).
    1971—Jack's political career started as a member of Congress until he ran for President in 1988 unsuccessfully. Most-notably, he was Bob Dole's running mate in another unsuccessful Presidential campaign against Bill Clinton in 1996.

    Honorable mention: Jesse Ventura, WWF Hall of Famer (does this count???); Jim Ryun, Olympic world record holding runner and former US Representative from '96-'07; Tom Osborne, three seasons in the NFL as a receiver and coach of Nebraska from '72-'97 as well as House of Rep. from 2000-'04.

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