It's political primary season and all across the country former athletes are running for office.
Because if there's anything we need right now, it's politicians who can pepper their cliched talking points with cliched sports metaphors.
Here are 20 athletes, past and present, who made the jump to politics.
#1 Kevin Johnson
The longtime Phoenix Suns point guard has been the mayor of Sacramento since 2008, when the Democrat won a mayoral runoff by a 57-43 margin. Voters no doubt had high hopes for Johnson’s administration, ones in which former teammate Oliver Miller would launch a Jamie-Oliver-esque revolution on Sacramento’s school lunches and Charles Barkley would teach sex ed. Instead, they’ve gotten boring press conferences in which Johnson brazenly flaunts the kind of tail he can pull thanks to his office.
#3 Richie Farmer
Even if John Wall isn’t the sure-thing NBA star we all think he’s going to be, he’ll still be able to find work somewhere in Kentucky. Just ask former Kentucky guard Richie Farmer. Despite modest career averages of 7.6 points and 1.6 assists per game, Farmer had his number retired by the Big Blue after his 1992 graduation, and he parlayed his popularity in the state and tremendous mustache into a job as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture in 2003.
Farmer’s currently serving his second term in office, and he’s rumored to be mulling a run for governor in 2011. If he needs a running mate, we like the ring of “NBA Washout and Insane Lieutenant Governor DeMarcus Cousins.”
#4 Steve Largent
The words “Seattle Seahawks” and “success” are rarely uttered in the same sentence, but from 1976 to 1989 Seattle Seahawks wideout Steve Largent was such a success that he made seven Pro Bowls and earned a spot in the Hall of Fame. After football, Largent spent eight years in Congress as an Oklahoma Republican before narrowly losing the Sooner State’s gubernatorial race in 2002. Not bad for an undersized receiver; Largent gives hope to anyone who’s dreaming of having the Wes Welker administration in the White House.
This was not Steve Largent's campaign video. But it should have been.
#5 Bill Bradley
Like a lot of senators and presidential hopefuls, Bradley looked like another old white guy by the end of his political career. In the 60s and 70s, though, he was enough of a hardwood force that he led Princeton to the Final Four. If you think that's insane, Bradley went on to make the Hall of Fame and win two championships as a member of the New York Knicks! Really. Following his retirement from hoops, the Rhodes Scholar spent 18 years as a Democratic Senator from New Jersey before unsuccessfully challenging Al Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000. This button is the most exciting thing that came out of their debates.
#6 Clint Didier
The two-time Super-Bowl-winning tight end for the Washington Redskins is currently in the midst of a run for a Senate seat in Washington state, and although he’s only pulling in a meager 4-percent support in recent polls, he says he’s in the race until the end. Didier’s Tea Party campaign, Clinton Portis’ career, Willie Parker’s career, everything Dan Snyder does or says … the Redskins refuse to admit when something’s become hopeless. If nothing else, voters should believe Didier’s promises of fiscal responsibility, particularly since he spent no more than seven bucks on his own campaign video.
#8 J.C. Watts
What does leading Oklahoma to consecutive Orange Bowl wins get you? A seat in Congress. After Watts QB'd the Sooners to two Orange Bowls before graduating in 1991, he spent some time in the CFL, became a Baptist minister, and then turned to politics. Starting in 1995 Watts served four terms as a Republican congressman from Oklahoma’s 4thdistrict. Along with Largent, Watts was part of Oklahoma voters’ insidious plan for the state to dominate the annual congressional football game. Seems like a better idea than waiting for Bob Stoops to win another title.
Bradley's campaign may be helped by the fact that he is already featured in posters all over the country. Although his opponents can just turn to YouTube for ready-made attack ads:
#12 Peter Boulware
Boulware, the Ravens’ career sack leader and the least murderous member of the team’s Super Bowl linebacking corps, lost his 2008 bid to become a member of Florida’s state house by a narrow margin of 430 votes. Although Boulware couldn’t grab that spot, Governor Charlie Crist appointed the ferocious Republican linebacker to the Florida Board of Education. Meanwhile, former teammate Tony Siragusa has launched an exploratory committee to see if there's a political office he could run for called Vice President of Sausage.
#13 Dave Bing
Bing, one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players and a seven-time All-Star, is also the incumbent mayor of Detroit. A Democrat, he won the office in 2009 due to his ties to the city, his business career after basketball, and a strong campaign. But mostly because he's not Kwame Kilpatrick:
#14 Howie Meeker
Think Deion Sanders playing both football and baseball at the same time was amazing? For two years in the early 1950s Meeker managed to simultaneously play right wing for the Maple Leafs and serve as a Conservative member of Canada’s Parliament. Although Meeker didn’t run for reelection in 1953, he managed to successfully juggle both jobs before becoming a Hall of Fame broadcaster. We can only pray that Sean Avery doesn’t try this trick the next time he’s dangerously in need of attention. There are more pressing concerns right now than anti-sloppy seconds legislation.
#15 Sebastian Coe
Pun-loving headline writers must have had a field day when British middle distance runner Coe announced he wasrunningfor Parliament in 1992. Coe, who had smashed records and piled up four Olympic medals as a middle distance runner in the 1980s, spent five years as a Conservative MP from 1992 to 1997. Although Coe lost his seat in Parliament, he has remained in the public eye, even chairing London’s successful bid to secure the 2012 Olympics.
Coe, of course, lost his seat in 1997 to a candidate from the Silly Party:
#16 Dawn Fraser
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Fraser was one of the best swimmers anyone had ever seen. She piled up four Olympic gold medals and four silver medals, and she has since been named Australia’s greatest female athlete, narrowly edging a female kangaroo that would kickbox hobos in a traveling carnival. In 1988 Fraser parlayed her immense popularity into a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, a post she held for three years. Hard to see any modern swimmers pulling off the same trick. Except for maybe Natalie Coughlin. It’s patriotic to vote for someone just because she’s hot, right? That has to be why Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski keeps winning.
#17 Jack Kemp
Kemp managed to do the seemingly impossible by leading the Buffalo Bills to multiple titles, but even he couldn’t drag Bob Dole into the White House. After an illustrious gridiron career in which he quarterbacked the Bills to AFL titles in 1964 and 1965, Kemp became a major force in Republican politics by serving in the House from 1973 to 1989, earning him the nickname “The Only Buffalo Bill Ever to Win Anything.” Kemp later served as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and ran with Dole on the presidential ticket in 1996.
Little known fact: Al Gore Al Gore! scored some laughs at Kemp’s expense in this vice presidential debate clip, but Kemp had the last laugh after beating Gore with a tire iron in the parking lot afterwards.
#18 Jim Bunning
Highlights of Bunning’s pitching career: throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter, winning 224 games, making seven All-Star teams, and earning enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Highlights of Bunning’s senatorial career: accusing his opponent in the 2004 election of looking “like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons,” being named one ofTime’s Five Worst Senators, and skipping the Christmas Eve health care reform vote because of “family commitments.” One of the biggest pieces of social legislation of the last fifty years? Whatever, man. If Big Jim doesn’t play Santa Claus at the Bunning family’s Christmas dinner, who will?
So to answer your obvious question: yes, Curt Schilling absolutely goes to sleep each night underneath a Jim Bunning poster while dreaming of his own 2018 Senate campaign.
#19 Ken Dryden
Dryden’s career as the Canadiens’ goalie was as awesome as it was brief. In just seven seasons’ worth of games he racked up five Vezina trophies and a career .790 winning percentage, numbers that got him into the Hall of Fame in 1983. In 2004 Dryden successfully ran as a Liberal candidate for Canadian Parliament, a post he still holds.
Here is one of Dryden's ads as a politician, in which he wears his ugliest mask:
#20 Jesse Ventura
Ventura surprisingly nailed Minnesota’s politicians with the legislative version of his trademark Body Breaker by winning Minnesota’s gubernatorial election in 1998. While in office, Ventura advocated property tax reform, gay rights, abortion rights, and more frequent showings ofPredatoron cable. Honestly, how could Minnesota’s voters deny a man who a) didn’t have time to bleed and b) made this tremendous commercial that just screams “cerebral policymaker?”
Domestic and import beer? Somebody's got an eye on Secretary of State!