Top 15 Athletes Who Went Political

When you think athlete, most of the time you probably don't think politician in the same breath. With the sort of resources and popularity that athletes have, why not go for it if their heart is re

When you think athlete, most of the time you probably don't think politician in the same breath.

With the sort of resources and popularity that athletes have, why not go for it if their heart is really in it and they have the support and of course money? Politics seems like a great thing to add to a resume for these athletes, and some actually seem to be good at doing it. These athletes gave us their blood, sweat and tears in their respectful careers, and are now turning their talents elsewhere.

Most of the time retired athletes will go work as a analyst, coach, broadcaster or something related to the professional sport they spent a good portion of their life playing and being around, but not all go that route and one of those lanes athletes may go is into the wide world of politics. Now doing something like that, jumping professions to that magnitude, may not be the simplest things to do but this athletes certainly put forth an effort to do their part and make a difference anyway they can.

They come from all different sports baseball, basketball, football, professional stars, college starts and even Olympians. Presidential nominees, governors to be, house of representatives members, and even Congress, no matter how big or small the office there has been some former athlete who has tried to get in on the action and run for a seat.

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15 Lynn Swann - Republican Governor Nominee for Pennsylvania 


The Pittsburgh Steelers were virtually unstoppable in the late 1970s and that was due in part to wide receiver Lynn Swann. The 1974 first round draft pick was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and key member in four championship runs the black and yellow had in the 70s. Having that NFL background doesn't always translate to wins in political elections though, as Swann lost to Democratic challenger Ed Rendell in the long run.

14 Heath Shuler - House of Representatives


His career was cut short due to a foot injury, but quarterback Health Shuler made it to the NFL, and made the best of it while he was there despite being recognized as a draft bust. The University of Tennessee product made 22 starts and riffled in 13 touchdowns while crossing pay dirt an additional time on the ground in 1997. Shuler entered the 2006 congressional race against an eight-term incumbent and won the bid, becoming one of only two Democrats to defeat an incumbent in the South in 2006.

The NFL 1994 third overall pick served three terms before calling it quits in 2012.

13 Jim Ryun - House of Representatives



As a World Record holder and a member of three Olympic teams Jim Ryun knew a thing or two about the world of track and field. Ryun competed in three consecutive Summer Games including 1968 where he won a silver medal in the 1,500 meters. Ryun served five terms in Kansas as a member of the House's second district beginning in 1997.

Ryun has since moved on and become a key member of the The Madison Project, who recruit conservatives who understand public policy problems and battle for solutions.

12 Matthew Lindland - House of Representatives


Matthew Lindland competed in one Olympic game the 2000 Sydney Games. It didn't stop there though he was also a member of the Team USA World Championship wrestling squad on three occasions as a middleweight finishing in the Top 20 all three times. Olympic silver medalist Lindland went 5-1 in the 2000 games with his lone loss coming in the finals match against Russian Murat Kardanov. The Olympian ran for State Representative of Oregon District 52 in 2008. He also had a stint in MMA which he went 22-9 in his career.

11 Steve Largent - House of Representatives 



Steve Largent was a talented offensive weapon in the NFL garnering a spot on the 1980 All-Decade team and seven trips to the Pro Bowl in his tenure in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks wide receiver hit the double digit touchdown mark three times in his 14-year career. In 1994 the Hall of Famer was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s first district. He was re-elected on three occasions. Largent was one of the House's most conservative members, and earned a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union during his first couple of years in Congress.

10 Jon Runyan - U.S. Congressman 

Tom Williams/Roll Call

In 14 NFL seasons at the right tackle position, Runyan accumulated 207 career games including 192 straight starts for the Philadelphia Eagles. Runyan burst into the political scene in 2010 were he represented New Jersey’s Third District. As a Republican he voted for both off-shore oil drilling and the Patriot Act. After four years as a congressman Runyan decided to change his profession again, but not before pointing out some similarities between them first

"Both are contact sports, and you’d better be ready to play when you step onto either field." said Runyan to on Jan. 24th, 2014.

Runyan was a 2002 Pro-Bowl honoree and also a member of the Eagles 2004 Super Bowl team that lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

9 Ben Campbell - House of Representatives 


Judo was Ben Campbell's sport of choice and he was a successful athlete who even made an Olympic appearance. Campbell finished sixth at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was captain of the Americans and the only one to place in the top 10 in the open class division. In 1986 he started the political journey for Campbell as voters of Colorado's Third Congressional District elected him as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives after a closely fought election. After finishing six years in the House of Representatives, Campbell made a choice to run for Senate, which got started after he beat Republican Terry Considine for the seat.

8 Ralph Metcalfe - House of Representatives


If it wasn't for Jesse Owens, the USA's fastest man would have been the best way to describe Olympic sprinter Ralph Metcalfe in the 1930s. Already a star at the University of Marquette, Metcalfe put on a show at the Los Angeles 1932 games when he won two medals; a silver and bronze in the 100 and 200-meters respectively. He wasn't done there as he followed that up with a gold and silver medal performance at the Berlin Championships in 1936 in the 100 and as a member of the 400-meter relay team.

In 1952, Metcalfe got his political career started by winning an election as Chicago’s Third Ward Democratic committeeman. He followed that up three years later in 1955 with his first of four elections as an alderman representing Chicago's south side. He ran for an open seat in Congress in 1970 as a Democrat and was elected from Illinois' first district.

7 Jim Bunning – U.S. Senator


Jim Bunning was a 190 pound right handed pitcher, who retired from the MLB at the age of 39. Six seasons of 200-plus strikeouts, a career ERA of 3.20 and one perfect game later, Bunning took on a career in politics that lasted over a decade. Bunning entered his political career as a Kentucky State Senator and went on to be a U.S. Representative from Kentucky's 4th district before settling in the U.S. Senate in 1999.

The Republican and baseball hall of famer, never known for mincing words, said after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she would be dead within a year. According to the Huffington Post he was also described a Democratic challenger of looking like one of Saddam Hussein's children. He later apologized for both.

6 Bill Bradley - U.S. Senator

AP Photo/Harry Cabluck

Bill Bradley was a politician for nearly two decades. Not only was he a successful political man, but he also was the author of seven books on American politics and how things get done the American way. With the help of teammates like NBA and NCAA coaching legend Larry Brown by his side, Bradley and the USA Basketball won a gold medal beating the Soviet Union in the championship game at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games. Just three years after retiring from the NBA Bradley was elected U.S. Senator of New Jersey at 35.

His political run also included a shot at the 2000 Democratic nominee race against Al Gore which he lost.

5 Jesse "The Body" Ventura - Governor of Minnesota


With the millions and millions of fans that follow the WWE it was no surprise that Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. His signature move was the body breaker, and that's certainty what he did, Ventura held the AWA World Tag Team Championship and was also a 2004 WWE Hall of Fame inductee. Prior to being elected governor, Ventura was mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and served from 1991 to 1995. Three years later, he made a run for Governor on the Reform Party ticket. He came out victorious defeating St. Paul's mayor and the state's attorney general in the election.

He later decided not to run for a second term, and was replaced in 2003 by Tim Pawlenty. Ventura was liberal on many social issues, like abortion and gay rights.

4 Jack Kemp - Congress

via AP Photo


As a field general in the AFL for 13 seasons Jack Kemp surpassed the 21,000 career passing mark and had back to back AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. Kemp did have troubles taking care of the ball as he totaled 183 career interceptions including six seasons of 20 interceptions or more, nevertheless the man was a winner and proved it time and time again.

It's said that his greatest legacy came from his years as a congressman, especially in 1978, when his argument for tax cuts to influence economic growth became party policy. This stands as his greatest stance even after he was secretary of housing and urban development under first President George Bush and a Republican vice-presidential nominee during the Bill Clinton campaign in 1996.

3 Kevin Johnson - Mayor of Sacramento

Ronald Martinez /Allsport

In the tough Western Conference in the 1990's point guard Kevin Johnson was a three-time NBA All-star and was considered a talent in the upper echelon of ball handlers in the game. K.J. recorded 10 or more assists in four straight seasons including 12.2 assists and 20.4 points per contest in the 1988-1989 season. Since becoming Sacramento's first African-American mayor in 2008, Johnson has implemented many new ideas including the Officer Next Door vision, which is a program hoping to help Sacramento become the safest city in California and a mirror image of community policing practices. Johnson was also a key member of the negotiations to keep the Sacramento Kings in the city as the team owners threatened to sell and move the team to Seattle.

2 Manny Pacquiao - Philippines Congress


With an astonishing 57-(38 KO's)-6-2 mark in his career, Manny Pacquiao has a sensational body of work he has done in the ring. He may not even be done yet despite his May 2nd, 2015 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pacquaio has won ten world titles in eight different weight divisions in his career. He was elected in 2010 as a Congressman in the Sarangani province in the Philippines. He beat out U.S.-educated businessman Roy Chiongbian. Pacquaio, who heads the People’s Champ Movement party, is doing his best balancing act , but it's reported that he only turned up for work at the House of Representatives for just four days in 2014, the least in the chamber. Pacquaio has switched parties many times and filled a dozen bills with none getting through the committee. Despite the negative backlash he recently announced a run for the Senate in his home country.

1 Arnold Schwarzenegger - California Governor

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a legend in the sport of body building winning his first Mr. Universe crown at 20 years old. Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Olympia title seven times between 1968-1980. He was a common name upon the winners taking the title six straight years. The body builder later retired from the sport to turn his focus to acting, becoming very successful in the process. He has not forgotten about his past though and is still a presence in bodybuilding writing many books and articles on the sport.

He was sworn in as California's 38th Governor in 2003. During his stretch as the governor Schwarzenegger acted as Chairman of the After School All-Stars, a nationwide after-school program, and also served as Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under George H.W. Bush. He also made California a world leader on renewable energy and climate change with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

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Top 15 Athletes Who Went Political