June 29, 2006

Ken Dryden for Prime Minister: Dryden -- the former All-Star goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, Hall of Famer, and former president of the Toronto Maple Leafs -- is running to be leader of the Canadian Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada. His site isn't bad and he does have a blog. Other than George Bush (who may not count because he was an owner), what other professional athletes have reached a high level of political office?

posted by jc to hockey at 06:07 PM - 43 comments

Oklahoma's got an odd propensity (well, they've done it at least twice) of electing football players to Congress. Cite J.C. Watts (whose only professional career was in the CFL) and Steve Largent.

posted by Ufez Jones at 06:18 PM on June 29

Former Senator Bill Bradley (1979-1997). 1964 Olympic Gold Medal, 1965 Priceton Graduate and a Star player for the New York Knicks (1967-1977). Currently Lynn Swan (Pittsburg Steelers 1974-1982) is campaigning for the Governship of Pennsylvania as the Republican Nominee. He was elected into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

posted by skydivedad at 06:58 PM on June 29

Steve's campaign went south when he thought he could just sit on his laurels and coast to victory...

posted by igottheblues at 07:46 PM on June 29

My favorite jock-turned-leader was Whizzer White, NFL leading rusher and Supreme Court judge.

posted by rcade at 07:49 PM on June 29

Jack Kemp was an NFL quarterback. I think he was with the Bills.

posted by ctal1999 at 08:31 PM on June 29

rcade, you ever read The Man Who Once Was Whizzer White? Because I didn't. Took it out of the library and got about halfway through. A little dry, but clearly an even better man than he was a running back.

posted by yerfatma at 09:11 PM on June 29

Hockey players have a long history of political appearances in Canada. Off the top of my head: Syl Apps - MPP (member of Provincial Parliament, Ontario) and Minister of Correctional Services Jean Beliveau - offered position as Governor General of Canada (turned it down) Lionel Conacher - MP (member of federal Parliament) and MPP. Maurice Richard - member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, although that's more for show than for power

posted by grum@work at 09:42 PM on June 29

I am not sure about the Canadien athletes listed here, but the Americans listed above, all brought honor and distinction to their office. If Ken is anywhere near as good a politician as he was a goaltender, then he will make an excellent Prime Minister.

posted by mjkredliner at 10:05 PM on June 29

Grum, you missed Howie Meeker, M.P., Bucko McDonald, M.P., Red Kelly, M.P. Frank Mahovolich is a senator now. I'm not sure which one, but one of the above M.P.'s was a member of parliment while still active.

posted by tommytrump at 10:06 PM on June 29

This guy was believed to have been a prospect for the Washington Senators, but apparently it's not true

posted by aupa_athletic at 10:09 PM on June 29

hall of fame pitcher Jim Bunning runner Jim Ryun captain of the 1964 u.s. judo team Ben Nighthorse Campbell and if you consider bodybuilders athletes, Gov. Schwarzenegger (via this article which was posted here)

posted by goddam at 10:13 PM on June 29

By the way, the posting is misleading. Dryden is actually running for the leadership of The Liberal Party of Canada, not the Canadian Liberal Party. Should he win the nomination, this would make him the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, NOT the Prime Minister of Canada. The party would have to win the most seats in the next general election to make him Prime Minister.

posted by tommytrump at 10:13 PM on June 29

the Americans listed above, all brought honor and distinction to their office. As a former constituent of Largent, I find fault in that statement. If I had been a constituent of Watts, I'd call the same bluff. YMMV. Sweep that broom carefully.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:05 PM on June 29

Osbourne went from coaching Cornhuskers to the House of Representatives. Bradley should have been the Democratic candidate for president in '88 instead of Dukakis, we'd never have gotten Bush pere or fils.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:11 AM on June 30

Ufez Jones, perhaps, as a former constituent of Oklahoma District 1, you have more insight than I do into Mr. Largents political career, but, I would remind you, that just because a politician does not have the agenda you would like him to have, does not mean that he is less than honorable. Maybe you would like to elaborate on Mr. Largents shortcomings?

posted by mjkredliner at 12:17 AM on June 30

Don Getty was quarterback for two Edmonton Eskimos Grey Cup champion teams and later became premier of Alberta. Former FIFA World Footballer of the Year George Weah narrowly lost the Presidential election in Liberia.

posted by rumple at 02:04 AM on June 30

And, it depends on your definition of sport, but Gary Kasparov, greatest chess player of all time, has entered Russian politics.

posted by rumple at 02:08 AM on June 30

George H.W. Bush was an All-American 1st baseman at Yale. His son was a famous cheerleader there as well.

posted by psmealey at 06:01 AM on June 30

Sorry... You asked for professional athletes, not college or amateur. It's an interesting point about American society that so many professional athletes have later moved on to careers in politics. To generalize a bit, being a former jock is a bigger advantage to building a political career than holding a Ph.D. There's something terribly sad about that.

posted by psmealey at 06:09 AM on June 30

George Weah was named FIFA World Player of the Year, European Footballer of the Year, and African Footballer of the Year. Weah ran unsuccessfully in the 2005 Liberian presidential election. Imran Khan is considered one of the best all-rounders in cricket history. Khan is now a Member of Parliament in Pakistan. During George W. Bush's recent trip to Pakistan, Khan was the only politician detained by President Musharraf under house arrest by the police for the duration of Bush's official visit.

posted by the red terror at 06:30 AM on June 30

I know he never played in the pros, but Gerald Ford was a football star at the University of Michigan.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:32 AM on June 30

GW was also a rugby player. Smoking-gun evidence of him cheap-shotting an opponent here.

posted by the red terror at 06:35 AM on June 30

If the Czech Olympic gold-medallist triple Emil Zátopek had lived in a democracy, he might have run for office. Zátopek was an influential figure in the Communist Party, but supported the party's democratic wing. After criticizing the Soviet Union's 1968 takeover of Czechoslovakia, he was deprived of his colonelcy in the Czech army; deprived of his Communist Party membership; and forced to work in a uranium mine as punishment.

posted by the red terror at 06:46 AM on June 30

mjkredliner, I would respond that just because somebody's political agenda matches yours, that doesn't make them honorable or signal distinction in service. If I may respectfully point out, you used the terms "honorable" and "distinction" when referring to Watts' and Largent's service, therefore, isn't it largely your responsibility to prove your claim? Ufez is a constituent that wasn't thrilled with Largent's service, and you call him out? Seems a little sketchy. Politically, Largent has been an honorable and distinct Republican rubber stamp, only voting out of party lines five times in his entire congressional career. From Wikipedia: Largent devoted...his time to issues important to the religious right. One of his first bills was a "parental rights" bill that died in committee after it attracted opposition even from other Christian conservatives. Another one of his early bills would have abolished the federal tax code at the end of 2001, a measure that only made Republicans appear fiscally irresponsible in the press. He opposed ending the 1996 federal government shutdown, and when it ended was one of the major players in an attempted coup against House Speaker Newt Gingrich. After the Republicans suffered heavy losses in the 1998 midterm elections, Largent was one of a group of Republican congressmen who drove Gingrich into retirement. Largent himself tried to take advantage of discontent with Majority Leader Dick Armey by challenging Armey for the post. Armey was very unpopular in the Republican caucus, but managed to defeat Largent because Largent wasn't seen as a team player. However, the bruising contest all but ended Armey's chances of becoming Speaker. Despite this, Largent decided to run for Governor of Oklahoma in 2002. He easily won the Republican nomination and resigned his House seat to devote all his energy to the race. Initially seen as an overwhelming favorite against Democratic state senator Brad Henry, his campaign lost ground since most Oklahomans outside of the Tulsa area didn't know where he stood on issues. Perhaps his biggest misstep occurred when he swore at an Oklahoma City television reporter who wanted to know where he was at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. His Press Secretary had put out a statement as if it were from Largent and then it was learned that Largent was on a hunting trip and didn't find out about the events of 9/11 until day or so later. Largent lost to Henry by just under 7,000 votes. As for Watts, I guess his record makes him even more honorable and distinct, as he's only strayed from party lines twice in his time in the congress. Watts also has fathered two children out of wedlock and, despite making a promise to the voters not to serve more than three terms, he ran for a fourth term (and won) in 2000. Also, in true honorable and distinct fashion, he branded fellow black congresspersons and civil rights leaders as "race hustling poverty pimps." Honorable and distinct.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:50 AM on June 30

Dryden's a smart guy and a staunch Liberal (it doesn't mean here, what it seems to mean in the U.S - "Traitor") who hasn't really done a shred of anything that would suggest he is a suitable candidate for holding the highest office in the country. He has a great deal of convincing to do. While he is a high-profile candidate, he is not considered a front runner. And Frank Mahovolich served as a Senator for many years. Senate positions in Canada are appointments - and have little real legitimate power.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:53 AM on June 30

who hasn't really done a shred of anything that would suggest he is a suitable candidate for holding the highest office in the country Other than winning a lot of hockey games, you mean. If he can manage a crease, he can manage 25 million of you folks.

posted by yerfatma at 08:45 AM on June 30

Actually, yerfatma, we're up to 33 million now.....did a lot breeding up here this winter.

posted by smithers at 08:55 AM on June 30

Canadian politics are as confusing as a curling match.

posted by HATER 187 at 08:59 AM on June 30

it doesn't mean here, what it seems to mean in the U.S - "Traitor" I think they both hate Amurka, though, don't they? ;-)

posted by psmealey at 09:00 AM on June 30

Aw, c'mon, TBH, everyone knows Wikipedia is part of a vast Left Wing Conspiracy! Seriously, I should have known better than to open a can o'worms such as this, I can only respond that this article presents Mr.Largent in a different light, and this puts Mr. Watts famous soundbite into proper perspective. If fathering children out of wedlock make one less than honorable, then the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Jesse Jackson et al. must no longer be considered honorable either. I was not trying to start an argument, mostly, I was curious as to why Ufez Jones found Mr. Largent's terms in Congress less than honourable. And, not straying from party lines is not a good measure of how well one serves publicly, I could easily show the same statistics for most Democrats serving in Congress. Note to self: Politics, religion, and Spofi when mixed are highly combustible.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:03 AM on June 30

If fathering children out of wedlock make one less than honorable, then the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Jesse Jackson et al. must no longer be considered honorable either. Yeah, but none of them ran on a "family values" platform.

posted by psmealey at 09:21 AM on June 30

Btw, when it comes down to it, no matter what your party allegiance or political ideology, there's nothing really honorable about being a politician, is there? It's a dirty, drirty business. /cynical bastard

posted by psmealey at 09:30 AM on June 30

I can't believe I just read "Aaron Burr" and "honorable" in the same sentence. Aaron Burr was a total scumbag who lived a life of scheming, treachery and treason. He hated George Washington, and he freakin' killed Alexander Hamilton, who never did anything wrong except maybe pay a con man for the privilege of shtuping his wife. And I'm backing psmealey on the whole politics thing. No honor in it at all anymore.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:16 AM on June 30

Ha Ha, BullpenPro, I agree, perhaps I should not have used "honorable" and "politician" in the same breath, but, your assessment of Burr as a scumbag to his face may have gotten you challenged to a duel! Hamilton had every chance to withdraw/recant the statements that drew Burr's ire, and, to not accept Burr's challenge, and, it should be noted, that Hamilton had been involved in no less than 21 duels himself prior to his lame ass claim that he missed Burr with his shot intentionally. I maintain that Burr was a colorful, if not honorable, forward thinking man, who was a proponent of westward expansion long before it was considered "Manifest Destiny", and whose life history has given me much pleasure and cause for thought. In older age, when he learned of The Texas Revolution, he noted that "What was treasonous of me thirty years ago, is patriotism now." And really, it would have taken me far too long to list all the public servants who have fathered children out of wedlock, Burr's name came to mind totally randomly.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:55 AM on June 30

Also, The Reverend Jesse Jackson's ill fated run at the Presidency in 1984 most definetely was run on a "family values" platform, although the catchphrase had yet to be invented.

posted by mjkredliner at 12:04 PM on June 30

Engineer: "It looks like we're stuck in the middle of the tracks. We aren't going anywhere soon." Assistant Engineer: "Hey...is that another train coming down the tracks?"

posted by grum@work at 12:30 PM on June 30

I'm not sure a brief exchange about Aaron Burr constitutes a train wreck... mjk: What say we leave it at this... can we agree that this is hilarious? That should end it. Back on topic, I know a pretty famous politician who was a Hall of Fame college football player and a Hall of Fame baseball player. I also know a princess who can dunk a basketball. Does "princess" count as "high level of political office?"

posted by BullpenPro at 01:18 PM on June 30

Otto Jelinek was an Olympic figure skater and then a Mulroney MP and cabinet minister. Peter Lougheed was premier of Alberta. Pat O'Brien and Moe Mantha Sr

posted by Philfromhavelock at 04:49 PM on June 30

Slava Fetisov is Minister of Sport in Russia.

posted by Philfromhavelock at 05:01 PM on June 30

I'm not sure a brief exchange about Aaron Burr constitutes a train wreck... Nah. I was more worried about the Republican/Democrat jibba-jabba.

posted by grum@work at 08:24 PM on June 30

I could easily show the same statistics for most Democrats serving in Congress. And if I mentioned how "honorable and distinctive" their specific service was, you'd have every right to hoist me by my own petard. I was curious as to why Ufez Jones found Mr. Largent's terms in Congress less than honourable. Ufez will have to provide you with the specifics. I don't live in Oklahoma, either. And, not straying from party lines is not a good measure of how well one serves publicly It does show a lack of imagination at the very least, and an alarming lack of humility when it comes to questioning your own side, if for no other reason than to make sure you're still "doing the right thing." I can assure you, I don't agree with 100% of what my party says, and when I don't, I damn sure don't vote for it. I was not trying to start an argument Go in peace, Kemosabe. I was more worried about the Republican/Democrat jibba-jabba. I'm jibba'd out. Or was I jabba? I can't tell anymore, they both look and sound the same.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:05 PM on June 30

Grzegorz Lato (ten World Cup goals) was a Polish Senator from 2001 to 2005.

posted by Philfromhavelock at 10:10 PM on July 01

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