Politics

Politicians with athletic pasts

Published 4:38 PM ET, Wed March 20, 2013
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President George W. Bush was the head cheerleader at boarding school Philips Academy before attending Yale, where he continued his cheerleading career. Bush also was a rugby union player for Yale's first XV. Click through to see other U.S. politicians that have played a role in sports before they got into politics. Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun of Kansas participated in three Olympics, earning a silver medal in the 1,500-meter run at the 1968 games. Ryun held a number of world records and was the last American to hold the world record in the mile. He served in Congress from 1996 to 2007. Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images
After failing to make the baseball team at West Point, President Dwight Eisenhower (shown in high school, back row, second from right), joined the football team, on which he started as a running back and linebacker before he injured his knee and was forced to quit the team. Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives
President Barack Obama shoots during a basketball game for Punahou High School in Hawaii in 1979. Obama played guard for the team and continues to play on a court he had installed at the White House. A invitation to play in one of the president's games is a hot commodity in D.C. Laura S. L. Kong/Getty Images
Former U.S. Rep. Ralph Metcalfe, second from left, of Illinois was an acclaimed athlete who eventually became the first man to win the NCAA 200-meter title three consecutive times. In the 1936 Olympics, Metcalfe placed second to Jesse Owens in the 100-meter race and also won a gold medal for his part in 4x100-meter relay. He served in Congress from 1971 until his death in 1978. Popperfoto/Getty Images
Steve Largent played for the Seattle Seahawks for 14 seasons before entering politics. Largent held several NFL all-time receiving records as a wide receiver and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. He represented Oklahoma's 1st district in the House of Representatives before leaving for an unsuccessful run for governor of Oklahoma. Harley Soltes/Seattle Times/Getty Images
President Ronald Reagan gave the "Start your engine!" command from Air Force One in 1984 before landing at Daytona Beach Airport and attending the Firecracker 400, where he congratulated NASCAR legend Richard Petty for his 200th career victory. ISC Archives via Getty Images
Former Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning played in the big leagues for 17 years, pitching for teams including the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1964, Bunning pitched a perfect game against the New York Mets, at the time only the seventh in major league history. Bunning was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne served in Congress from Nebraska's 3rd District from 2001-2007 after a long and diverse career in football. Osborne was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1959 and also played for the San Francisco 49ers as a wide receiver. Osborne coached the Cornhuskers for 24 years and later served as the university's athletics director. Albert Dickson/Sporting News/Icon SMI/Getty Images
Former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley had a lucrative career as a basketball player, playing for the New York Knicks for 10 years and winning two NBA championships. Bradley also won a gold medal as part of the 1964 Olympic basketball team and was named the NCAA Player of the Year in 1965 while attending Princeton University. He was later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. Pictorial Parade/Getty Images
During his time at Yale University, President George H.W. Bush captained the baseball team, playing as a first baseman. The Yale baseball team would go on to compete in the first two College World Series. Bush was also a member of the Yale cheerleading squad. George Bush Presidential Library/MCT/Getty Images
Bill Clinton has long showed support for various sports teams, appearing with the U.S. women's soccer team in their locker room after defeating China. Clinton also recently appeared in the Louisville locker room after its Big East tournament win over Villanova. TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
President Richard Nixon, number 12, played football while at Whittier College, where he also played basketball and ran track. Nixon was the brains behind "Nixon's Play," the infamous play that he drew up for the Washington Redskins' 1971 first-round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. The play resulted in a 13-yard loss for the Redskins on the way to a 24-20 loss. Fox Photos/Getty Images
Former New York Rep. Jack Kemp played for several professional football teams, most notably as quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. Kemp played in the American Football League for all 10 years of the league's existence before it merged with the NFL, and he co-founded the AFL Players Association. Kemp would go on to serve in Congress and run for president in 1988. He was Sen. Bob Dole's running mate in the 1996 presidential race. Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Tom McMillen served as Maryland's 4th District representative for six years after a 12-year career playing professional basketball in the NBA. During his career McMillen would play for the Buffalo Braves, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Washington Bullets before his retirement in 1986. Frank Giorandino/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Former North Carolina Rep. Heath Schuler played professional football for the Washington Redskins before serving in Congress. After a standout career at Tennessee, Shuler was picked as a first-round draft pick in 1994 and also played for the New Orleans Saints and the Oakland Raiders before retiring in 1998 and entering politics in 2006. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
President Gerald Ford was the star of his University of Michigan football team, playing center as well as linebacker. Ford won national titles with the Wolverines in 1932 and 1933 after finishing undefeated seasons. Ford was also a fervent golfer, recording a hole in one at a professional-amateur tournament in 1977. Michigan University/Getty Images
Former California Rep. Bob Mathias was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and decathlete before entering politics in 1967. Competing in the decathlon at age 17, Mathias was at the time the youngest person to win a gold medal in a track and field event. Mathias then went on to play college football at Stanford for two years. CORR/AFP/Getty Images