Porter Gifford/Liaison

Athletes who went into politics after their careers were over

Plenty of athletes become involved in the community following their playing days, but here are the most famous of them who went from the playing surface to politics.

 
1 of 40

David Albritton

David Albritton
Getty Images

A member of the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame, Albritton won the 1936 silver medal in the high jump. He also served six terms in the Ohio House of Representatives as a Republican, from 1961-72.

 
2 of 40

Dave Bing

Dave Bing
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The point guard starred at Syracuse from 1963-66, playing with future Orange head coach Jim Boeheim. Bing went on to become the second overall pick in the 1966 NBA Draft and played 12 seasons with the Pistons, Bullets and Celtics. He won a plethora of awards during his career and made both the Basketball and College Basketball Halls of Fame. Bing's No. 22 and No. 21 are retired at Syracuse and with the Pistons, respectively. He served as mayor of Detroit from 2008-13.

 
3 of 40

Cory Booker

Cory Booker
Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS/Sipa USA

At Stanford Booker played tight end and earned a political science degree in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He made the All-Pac-10 Academic team and became senior class president. After law school, Booker returned to New Jersey and served as mayor of Newark from 2006-13 before becoming a senator and presidential candidate.

 
4 of 40

Bill Bradley

Bill Bradley
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Playing shooting guard and small forward, Bradley starred for the New York Knicks over 10 seasons from 1967-77. He made the 1973 All-Star team and helped the Knicks win the NBA championship in 1970 and 1973. The Knicks retired his No. 24, and Bradley served three terms as a Democratic senator from New Jersey and unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primaries for president in 2000.

 
5 of 40

Jim Bunning

Jim Bunning
Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching for five teams over a 17-year MLB career, Bunning won 224 games and struck out 2,855 batters from 1955-71. He made nine All-Star teams and pitched two no-hitters, including a perfect game in 1964. Bunning made the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee vote in 1996. He entered politics in 1980, first serving as a member of the Kentucky Senate from 1980-84. He was in Kentucky's House of Representatives from 1987-1999, and then was again a senator from Kentucky from 1999-2011.

 
6 of 40

Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell

Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell
RJ Sangosti/Getty Images

A Korean War veteran, Campbell competed in the judo event during the 1964 Summer Oympics but suffered an injury during competition and didn't win a medal. He served in the Colorado House of Representatives as a Democrat from 1987-93 and then became a senator from Colorado for multiple terms from 1993-2005. Campbell also served as the chair on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee from 2003-05.

 
7 of 40

Terry Dehere

Terry Dehere
contrast/Boris Streubel/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The former No. 13 overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, Dehere played shooting guard for the Clippers, Kings and Grizzlies from 1993-99. He finished his career playing in the EuroLeague and the NBA Development League. Dehere joined the fray of politics in New Jersey in 2001 when he became a candidate for an at-large council seat in the Jersey City municipal election. He served on the Jersey City Board of Education from 2007-10.

 
8 of 40

Clint Didier

Clint Didier
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Didlier played tight end for the Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers from 1981 to 1989. He won two Super Bowls with the Redskins in 1982 and 1987, scoring a touchdown in the team's second Super Bowl win. Didlier unsuccessfully ran for office four times from 2010-16, but then he finally won a seat on the Franklin County Commission, District 3 in 2018.

 
9 of 40

Ken Dryden

Ken Dryden
Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

He played in the NHL for only eight seasons, but Dryden filled his trophy case with five Vezina Trophies, the 1971 Conn Smythe Trophy and 1972 Calder Trophy. Additionally, he led the Montreal Canadiens to six Stanley Cup victories from 1971-79. Dryden became a member of the Canadian Parliament for the York Centre from 2004-11.

 
10 of 40

Chris Dudley

Chris Dudley
Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns

Dudley played 16 seasons in the NBA for the Cavaliers, Nets, Trail Blazers, Knicks and Suns. His best statistical season came in 1990-91 when he posted 7.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Dudley ran for Oregon governor in 2010 on the Republican ticket but narrowly lost the election to John Kitzhaber.

 
11 of 40

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bert Hardy/Getty Images

The 36th President of the United States played a plethora of sports while at West Point. He didn't make the basketball team, but he played varsity football in 1912. After suffering a knee injury, he began to participate in fencing and gymnastics. Eisenhower served as a Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during WWII and then entered politics in 1948. He became president in 1953, serving two terms until 1961.

 
12 of 40

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford
University of Michigan

Playing center, long snapper and linebacker at Michigan, Ford helped the Wolverines go undefeated and win two national titles, in 1932 and 1933. After serving in WWII, Ford returned home to join the Michigan House of Representatives until becoming vice president in 1973. He rose to U.S. president when Richard Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal in 1974, but he lost his reelection bid to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

 
13 of 40

Anthony Gonzalez

Anthony Gonzalez
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

An Ohio State three-time letterman, Gonzalez became a first-round pick for the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. He recorded 99 catches for 1,307 yards and seven touchdowns with the Colts and New England Patriots from 2007-12. Gonzalez won the 2018 election to join the Ohio House of Representatives. 

 
14 of 40

Napoleon Harris

Napoleon Harris
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

After going 23rd overall in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Harris played linebacker for the Raiders, Vikings and Chiefs. At Northwestern, Harris made second-team All-Big Ten twice in 2000 and 2001. After his football career, Harris became an Illinois senator in 2013 and remains the incumbent.

 
15 of 40

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Starting his career as the No. 7 overall selection in 1987, Johnson played 13 NBA seasons, including 12 for the Phoenix Suns. He made three All-Star Games, and the Suns retired his No. 7. After retirement Johnson served as mayor of Sacramento from 2008-16.

 
16 of 40

Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson
Bettmann / Contributor

Johnson starred as a pitcher for the Washington Senators from 1907-27. He amassed 417 wins and 531 complete games, which ranks him second and fifth on the all-time lists. Johnson also posted 110 shutouts, which stands as an MLB record, and won AL MVP in 1913 and 1924. In 1938, he won an election to become Montgomery County commissioner in Maryland.

 
17 of 40

Hayes Jones

Hayes Jones
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

An Olympic track star, Jones won gold in the 100-meter hurdles during the 1964 Summer Olympics. He also took home the bronze in the same event during the 1960 games. Jones ran to become a state representative in Pontiac, Michigan, in 2006.

 
18 of 40

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp
Pool reporter/Getty Images

Kemp played one NFL season with the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957, but he spent most of his professional football career in the AFL. After one season in the CFL, Kemp joined the Chargers in 1960 and played for the Buffalo Bills from 1962-69. He led the Bills to two AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. Following his football career, Kemp served as a member of the New York House of Representatives from 1971-89.

 
19 of 40

Steve Largent

Steve Largent
Arthur Anderson/Getty Images

The 1976 fourth-round pick went No. 117 overall to the Oilers, but he never played a down for Houston, getting traded to the expansion Seattle Seahawks after the 1976 preseason. Largent developed into a star, though, earning seven Pro Bowl nominations and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Largent returned home to Oklahoma to serve in the state's House of Representatives from 1994-2002, after his playing days.

 
20 of 40

Don Lash

Don Lash
Washington Post

Winning 12 national titles in long-distance running in the late 1930s, Lash competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics for the United States. He set a world record that same year in the two-mile run. After retirement he served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1973-82.

 
21 of 40

Matt Lindland

Matt Lindland
Darryl Dennis/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

A former wrestler and MMA fighter, Lindland won the silver medal for Men's Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics. In his MMA career, he's posted 22 wins in 31 bouts. Lindland ran as a Republican for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives but lost in 2008.

 
22 of 40

Bob Mathias

Bob Mathias
Keystone France/Getty Images

Mathias won a pair of Olympic gold medals in the decathlon in the 1948 and 1952 Summer Games. At 17 years old in 1948, he became the youngest to ever win a gold medal in a track and field event. Mathias then served in the California House of Representatives from 1967-75.

 
23 of 40

Tom McMillen

Tom McMillen
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The former No. 9 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft, McMillen played professional basketball for 12 seasons, including 11 in the NBA. Most notably, he played for the Atlanta Hawks from 1977-83. McMillen also served in the Maryland House of Representatives from 1987-93.

 
24 of 40

Wayne Messam

Wayne Messam
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

As a freshman, Messam was part of Florida State's 1993 national championship squad. He played four years with the Seminoles, posting 62 receptions for 793 yards and four touchdowns. He won two elections in Miramar, Florida, first to serve as City Commission in 2011 and mayor in 2015. Messam ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 but suspended his campaign in March 2019.

 
25 of 40

Ralph Metcalfe

Ralph Metcalfe
Bettmann / Contributor

Metcalfe competed in two Summer Olympics as an American track and field sprinter in 1932 and 1936. He won four Olympic medals, including gold in the 4x100 meter-relay in 1936. Metcalfe then served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971-78.

 
26 of 40

Jack Mildren

Jack Mildren
Bill Johns/Getty Images

Known as the "Godfather of the Wishbone," Mildren played quarterback at Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to an 11-1 record as a senior in 1971. He was a second-round pick in the 1972 NFL Draft and played three seasons in the NFL. Mildren won an election to become lieutenant governor of Oklahoma in 1991, serving until 1995. He lost the Oklahoma governor race in 1994.

 
27 of 40

Wilmer Mizell

Wilmer Mizell
Denver Post via Getty Images

Mizell pitched in the MLB from 1952-62 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets. He made two All-Star games in 1959 and won the World Series with the Pirates in 1960. Mizell then served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969-75.

 
28 of 40

Magglio Ordóñez

Magglio Ordóñez
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In 15 MLB seasons, Ordóñez amassed a .309 batting average, 2,156 hits and 294 home runs. He made six All-Star teams and won the American League batting title in 2007. Ordóñez was elected mayor of Juan Antonio Sotillo Municipality in Venezuela in 2013.

 
29 of 40

Tom Osborne

Tom Osborne
Sporting News Archives

After playing three seasons as a quarterback and wide receiver in the NFL, Osborne found his true calling in coaching. He became an assistant at Nebraska in 1964 and after nine seasons, he rose to Cornhuskers head coach in 1973. After years of failing to win the big game, Osborne's Cornhuskers broke through with a perfect 13-0 record in 1994 and repeated as national champions at 12-0 in 1995. Osborne capped off his career with another 13-0 season and a co-national title in 1997. Then from 2001-07, Osborne served in Nebraska's House of Representatives. He ran for Nebraska governor in 2007 and lost.

 
30 of 40

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Pacquiao has also been involved in Philippine politics throughout his athletic career. He served as a member of the Philippine House of Representatives from 2010-16 and became a senator in 2016. Pacquiao has posted a 62-7-2 record as a professional boxer.

 
31 of 40

Jon Runyan

Jon Runyan
Tom Williams/Getty Images

Playing offensive tackle, Runyan became one of the best offensive linemen in Eagles history during his nine seasons in Philadelphia. Runyan also played for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers, making All-Pro in Tennessee during the 1999 season. After retiring from the NFL, Runyan served in New Jersey's House of Representatives from 2011-15.

 
32 of 40

Jim Ryun

Jim Ryun
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

A mid-distance track star, Ryun won the silver medal in the 1500-meter race in the 1968 Summer Olympics. He also ran the mile and 800-meters events and competed in three Olympic games (1964, 1968, 1972). Ryun served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1996-2007.

 
33 of 40

Jim Schwantz

Jim Schwantz
Otto Greule Jr / Stringer Getty Images

An All-American freshman in 1988 and Pro Bowler in 1996, Schwantz played for the Bears, Cowboys and 49ers from 1992-98. He starred mostly as a special teams player and helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl XXX. Schwantz became mayor of Palatine, Illinois, in 2009 and continues to serve in that role.

 
34 of 40

Heath Shuler

Heath Shuler
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After finishing as the Heisman Trophy runner-up at Tennessee in 1993, Shuler went third overall to the Washington Redskins in the 1994 NFL Draft. He never lived up to the hype, but he spent six seasons in the league with the Redskins, Saints and Raiders (as a practice squad member). Shuler then became a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2007-13.

 
35 of 40

Greg Skrepenak

Greg Skrepenak
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

A star at Michigan, Skrepenak was twice named the Big Ten Lineman of the Year. He went on to play six NFL seasons with the Raiders and Panthers. Skrepenak won an election to the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners in Pennsylvania in 2003. However, in 2009 he was formally charged with accepting a bribe and was sentenced to 24 months of jail time.

 
36 of 40

Lynn Swann

Lynn Swann
Tim Sloan/Getty Images

He played just nine seasons in the NFL, but Swann won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1970s. He won MVP in Super Bowl X and received induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. President George W. Bush appointed Swann chairman of the United States President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and then he ran for Pennsylvania governor on the Republican ticket in 2006 but lost.

 
37 of 40

Jesse Ventura

Jesse Ventura
Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

Perhaps best known for his acting roles, especially his part in "Predator," Ventura became a professional wrestler after serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. After his retirement from wrestling, Ventura became the mayor of Brooklyn Park from 1991-1996 and then was governor of Minnesota from 1999-2003.

 
38 of 40

J.C. Watts

J.C. Watts
Chris Maddaloni/Getty Images

Watts played quarterback at Oklahoma from 1977-80 and then spent six seasons in the CFL. He won the Grey Cup MVP in 1981. Watts then served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1995-2003.

 
39 of 40

Dwayne Woodruff

Dwayne Woodruff
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

During his rookie season, Woodruff won Super Bowl XIV with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He recorded 37 interceptions during his 12-year NFL career, which was entirely in Pittsburgh. Woodruff became a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas, winning an election to serve in that capacity during 2005. He unsuccessfully ran for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2015.

 
40 of 40

Sam Wyche

Sam Wyche
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Over his 11-year NFL career, Wyche played quarterback for four different teams, including the expansion Cincinnati Bengals from 1968-70. Then he coached in the NFL for more than two decades, leading the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII. In 2008 Wyche won an election to serve on the County Council in Pickens County, South Carolina.

Dave Holcomb began working as a sports writer in 2013 after graduating from Syracuse University. Over the past six years, he has covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, fantasy sports, college football and basketball, and New Jersey high school sports for numerous print and online publications. Follow Holcomb on Twitter at @dmholcomb.


  COMMENTS

The Morning Bark Newsletter. Emailed daily.

You'll receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams.

Emailed daily. Always FREE!

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!