Sunday, Feb. 1 2004

Political footballers

The following are our our top 10 choices for athletes turned elected officials. How would you rank them? Who would you add? Read our list, then add your comments at bottom.

1. Byron R. "Whizzer" White - He was a prolific running back who almost won the Heisman trophy in 1937 at the University of Colorado, but he is best-known for his progressive leadership and independence in his three decades on the U.S. Supreme Court.

2. Gerald R. Ford - He starred as a varsity center at the University of Michigan, and was elected to Congress in 1948, where he served 13 terms. President Nixon nominated him to fill the vice presidency in 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned, and he became the president in 1974 when Nixon resigned.

3. Jack Kemp - For two years, he was quarterback of the Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers of the American Football League, and the Buffalo Bills from 1962 to 1969. He led the Bills to two championships before becoming a U.S. representative and secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1989.

4. Steve Largent - Largent was a record-setting wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks for 13 years, catching 819 passes and scoring 100 touchdowns before becoming an Oklahoma congressman in 1994.

5. J.C. Watts - As a bandanna-clad option quarterback, J.C. Watts led his Oklahoma Sooners football team to two straight Orange Bowl victories in the early 1980s, and won a Grey Cup championship in the Canadian Football League, but today he is best-known as the former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma.

6. Alan Page was a pillar in the "Purple People Eaters" defense of the 1970s Minnesota Vikings. He was a lineman for the Vikings and later the Chicago Bears from 1967 to 1981. Page has served as a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court since 1993.

7. Tom Osborne was head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1972 to 1997, winning three national championships. He also played three seasons in the National Football League. In 2001, he was elected to Congress.

8. Former Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams was also a Cincinnati City Council member. He played for the Bengals from 1976 to 1989 and now oversees a staff of 2,000 as vice president of Disney Sports Attractions

9. Former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Bill Kenney threw for more than 4,000 yards in 1983 and played eight years for the team before becoming a Missouri state senator. After serving two terms, he reached term limitation in 2003.

10. Pat Swilling was a Pro Bowl linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders from 1986 to 1998. In 2003, he lost his seat as a Louisiana state representative after serving one term.

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