Contact Us

Former Athletes Who Became Politicians

This is an attempt to celebrate the bravery of these athletes and showcasing how they performed both big and small. Here are some former athletes who became politicians.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 17.02.2021
Former Athletes Who Became Politicians | Sports Social Blog

Pivoting from one career to another is not as easy as it seems, and not everyone will make this switch successfully. In this blog post, we will look at some athletes who made a successful switch from sports to politics. These individuals took a massive leap after their sports careers, and instead of taking other roles in sports like coaching or technical assistance, they moved to a different field and tried their hands at it. 

This is an attempt by Telecomasia at celebrating the bravery of these athletes and showcasing how they performed both big and small. Here are some former athletes who became politicians:

  • Dave Bing

  • Heath Shuler

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Tom Osborne

  • Steve Largent

  • J.C. Watts

  • Jim Bunning

  • Lynn Swann

Dave Bing:

Dave played in the NBA and became a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame. He had a fantastic career that saw him become the rookie of the year and a seven-time all-star guard with the Detroit Pistons. As easily as sports came to him, so did politics. He became the Mayor of Detroit in 2009 when he won the former Mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick) resigned due to a scandal. He first won the special elections, which were held immediately after the resignation, then he won the main elections, which were held six months later.

Heath Shuler:

Heath was an athlete whose career spanned the Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and the Washington Redskins. Although he had a remarkable college football career, his professional plays were average at best, and he is considered to be among one of the biggest NFL drafts flop ever. Post football, he became the representative of North Carolina’s 11th district. He is a democrat but is also known for having conservative tendencies in his bills and policies. He was also appointed to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure and budgets.

Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Arnold became the governor of California in 2003 after winning the recall election and again in 2006 when he won another term. He remained the governor till 2011 and is remembered as the first governor to pass a greenhouse emissions cap. Before Arnold became a bigshot politician, he was a bodybuilder and is regarded as the most famous bodybuilder ever. During his time as a bodybuilder, he won the Mr. Olympia award seven times and is also the one-time winner of the Mr. Universe award. It is important to note that he also delved into acting for a while before becoming governor.

Tom Osborne:

Tom Osborne was not a spectacular player during his college days as he had three below-par seasons playing as a wide receiver in the NFL. He then pivoted to coaching and did a fantastic job as the coach of the Cornhuskers. During his time as the coach, Tom guided them to win three national championships and thirteen conference titles. In his political career, he spent eight years as the third district representative in Nebraska under the republican party. He co-sponsored a few bills and was the lead sponsor on a bill that passed. His political career seemingly came to an end when he lost the 2006 Nebraska governorship race.

Steve Largent:

You cannot mention the Seattle Seahawks without mentioning their all-time best player Steve Largent. He held the receiving records for the most touchdown catches at the club and most receptions (his major records are six in total). In 1995 he was elected to the hall of fame to join other NFL greats. His political career was equally remarkable as he represented Oklahoma’s first district for four terms until he resigned to pursue his governorship aspirations. He ran for the governorship seat in Oklahoma but lost by a slim margin. Steve was exemplary on and off the pitch.

J.C Watts:

Watts started his playing career in his college days as a quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. The New York Jets drafted Watts as a running back, but he followed his dreams to Canada, where he played as a quarterback for the Ottawa Rough Riders. He led the Grey Cup Finals team in 1981 and played in the Canada Football League until 1986. He broke a record by emerging as the first African-American congressman from a southern state when he represented Oklahoma’s fourth district. He went on to have a successful political career that culminated in becoming the fourth most powerful republican representative.

Jim Bunning:

Bunning was a star on and off the field. As an MLB player, he became one of only twenty pitchers who threw a perfect game in the Major Leagues. In 1996. He was added to the MLB hall of fame because of his superb skills and fantastic career. When he joined the political scene, he became a US senator in 1999 and had a political career spanned over 30 years. He served on the City Council of Fort Thomas before running for the senatorial seat. He was regarded as the second most conservative senator in the US, which is not surprising because he is a republican. Jim enjoyed a full career in baseball and politics and enjoyed one of the best career switches on this list.

Lynn Swann:

Lynn Swann played in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Among other club achievements, he was the MVP of Super Bowl IX, and he also led them (Pittsburgh Steelers) to four super bowl titles. During his playing days, he was known for his athletic prowess, and in 2001 he joined other greats in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His major political post was as the chairman of the physical fitness council. Although he won the 2006 GOP ticket for the governorship race in Pennsylvania, he lost the governorship race by 20 points.


These athletes are just a few of the fantastic individuals who have succeeded in switching careers. They moved from sports to politics, made an impact, and rallied voters behind them. This piece celebrates the resourcefulness of these characters and how they have shaped the political landscape around them. It is also important to note that these are a select few athletes that have been shown here, and other athletes moved into other industries and excelled. If you would like to read more reviews like this or other reviews related to Sportsbooks, visit Meta Reviews for all your needs. Meta Reviews stock the latest information you need to succeed as a bettor. 

Stay tuned to Chase Your Sport for the more interesting articles and sports information.

Chase Your Sport

Stay up-to-date on the latest sports news, stats, expert analysis and trends, including cricket, football, wrestling, tennis, basketball, Formula One and more. Find previews, schedules, results of upcoming events, and fantasy tips on Chase Your Sport.