Pro athletes have been serving in office since Ronald Reagan parlayed his Notre Dame career as “The Gipper” into the California governor’s mansion.
Wait, that wasn’t real? Okay, How about Bill Bradley and Jack Kemp, two terrific players who served their country proudly and even took their shot at the presidency? From local teams, we’ve seen former Phillie pitcher Jim Bunning serve two terms in the U.S. Senate and former Eagles tackle Jon Runyan take his toughness to the House.
As a self-confessed sports geek I see others on the horizon. Here are six sports figures with Philadelphia connections whom I believe would make strong political candidates – if not necessarily successful office holders. You’ll note they come from all sides of the spectrum:
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Charles Barkley: The Natural. Sir Charles has been threatening for years to become Governor Charles in his home state of Alabama. I would love to see him take a run. He’s smart, quick and funny enough that I feel sorry for any opponent facing him in a live debate. May not have the patience to deal with the daily grind of the job, but he would sure be entertaining.
Connor Barwin: If I was picking the next Philadelphia mayor after Jim Kenney, the Eagles personable defensive end would be my guy. He’s a leader, a great teammate and a down-to-earth millionaire who takes the subway to work. He comes from government roots – his dad is the city manager of Sarasota, Fla. Barwin’s also as charitable as they come. His foundation has raised over $1 million for Philly parks.
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Curt Schilling: He got fired from his ESPN gig earlier this year for his divisive tweets. Since then, Schill has become one of social media’s most Trumpian commentators. Most nights, he’s on Instagram from his living room, offering right wing screeds on gun control, national defense and his loathing of President Obama. In some states, those views might work in his favor. Living in deep blue Massachusetts, even a World Series hero might have a tough climb.
Tim Tebow: His career as an Eagle lasted four pre-season games. His NFL career lasted 35 games. I’ll predict his political career lasts much longer. People have speculated about it since his Heisman days at Florida, and Tebow recently said he’d run for office if he believed he could “make a difference for children.” Predictable response. Maybe even boring. But still perfect.
Dick Vermeil: Too old, you say? Well, Hillary is 68, Trump’s 70 and Bernie’s 74. Vermeil’s the most youthful 79 year old I’ve ever seen. Sharp and inspirational. And in case you’ve got doubts about his electability in the Delaware Valley, consider that 34 years after he quit as the Eagles coach, he’s still starring on local commercials
Jay Wright: The perfect candidate. Tall, handsome, articulate, unquestionably loyal. Active in charities. Snazzy dresser. Adept at leading a nation – Nova Nation. So well-liked that he’d even run well in the Temple and St. Joseph’s precincts. I’m not sure whether he’s a Democrat or Republican, but he’s already got the perfect slogan: “Let’s Make America Wright Again.”
I’m not suggesting a career change, Jay. But if you decide to try something new, give me a call.