Life is full of twists and turns. We like to plan, but a lot of the time our plans don’t usually pan out. This is often how we get people who go on to change the world. For example, these celebrities all played college football, before quitting to become best in the world at something else.
Tommy Lee Jones
It turns out that Tommy Lee Jones was a football player during his days studying at Harvard. He was an offensive guard and even made it into the all-league team in the 1960s. By the way, it turns out that he was roommates with Al Gore (we wonder if Gore was a clean roommate). One of the major games Jones played in was when his undefeated Harvard team went up against the undefeated Yale team. The teams ended the game with a historic tie.
As the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan helped to bring down the Soviet Union as well as help restart the American economy. However, it also turns out that he was quite the athlete during his college years, playing football for Eureka College in the midwestern state of Illinois. He did this while also somehow finding the time to letter in track and swimming. Wow, The Gipper really knew how to do it all.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was one of the the world’s best and most famous wrestlers. However, what we did not realize was that he was also a football star for the North Texas University Mean Green until he blew out his ligaments. He graduated soon after and, seeking to do something which was just a physically strenuous, he decided to use his height and massiveness in order to become an award winning wrestler.
Channing Tatum looks like your average football jock. And that was exactly what he was when he was at Glenville State College located in West Virginia. He played ball there while he was in college, having received a scholarship to go there. He has played a bunch of other sports, but is most well known for movies such as the Jump Street franchise as well as the Magic Mike franchise. That’s why he was well suited to be the football player in 22 Jump Street.
Nick Nolte is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood. He has appeared in Hotel Rwanda, Over The Hedge, and of course, Cape Fear. But Nolte was also a football player during his college days at Arizona State University. He was actually accepted to the university on a football scholarship. Sadly, he was cut from the team and expelled from the school due to low academics. He seems to be doing alright for himself though.
Terry Crews is a great comedian and actor. He is similar to a really really nice pitbull. After watching him play Sgt. Terry Jeffords, it’s hard to think that he is anything else other than an actor who just really likes to work out. However, it may not surprise you to know that Crews not only played football for the Washington Redskins, but also played for Western Michigan University, leading them to a MAC championship back in 1988.
Dean Cain is most well known for his role as Superman. But before he ever left Krypton for Earth he was a football player at the prestigious Princeton University where he played Defensive Back on the team. In fact, he set a national record for interceptions, catching 12 picks over the course of 10 games back in 1987. He was even signed on to the Buffalo Bills NFL team, but he had his football career cut short due to a knee injury.
Phil Robertson is a big bearded man who is best known for selling the best duck callers in the world and being on a reality television show called Duck Dynasty. But it turns out that he was also a quarterback at Louisiana Tech where he appeared ahead of Terry Bradshaw on the depth chart. However, the team struggled under him, and he threw 34 interceptions. In the end, he decided to leave football and focus on duck hunting instead.
This is a big bad dude. He was able to beat Rocky in Rocky III, and he was also a part of the world famous A-Team. However, before he ever became the famous Mr. T, he was Laurence Tureaud. Tureaud played football for his high school team in Chicago and then got a football scholarship to study at Prairie View A&M in Texas. He was expelled from school after one year, joined the military, then tried out for the Green Bay Packers, but didn’t make the team.
We all know Josh Duhamel as the star of the Transformers franchise as well as the main actor in the movie Safe Haven. But it turns out that before all his fame, he was a student athlete at Minot State University way up there in North Dakota, following in his father’s footsteps. He played football at Minot State and even played basketball for the university for a year before deciding to focus in on his studies.
Carl Weathers is probably more well known to our older readers as a football player who moved to acting. Weathers had a strong college football career, going on to play for the Oakland Raiders for two seasons before transferring over to the Canadian Football League’s British Columbia Lions. For us younguns however, he will forever be Apollo Creed from Rocky I and II. Oh yea, he was also Chubbs in Happy Gilmore.
Matthew Fox became famous for being Dr. Jack Shephard on Lost as well as starring in Party of Five. However, before he started his acting career, he was studying at Columbia University on a football scholarship. He played wide receiver for the team, but he was not really able to help pull off any victories. In fact, despite the fact that he played 40 games for the team, he was only able to win two of them.
Better known as Dr. Phil, Phil McGraw is best known as a very popular self help guru who rode Oprah’s coattails to fame and his own spinoff show. However, the guy has quite the athletic past, having played as a linebacker during his time at the University of Tulsa. He was on the field during the team’s worst ever loss to the University of Houston, where the Golden Hurricanes lost 100-6.
Burt Reynolds was the hunkiest of man hunks in the 1970s. He played in movies such as Smokey and the Bandit, Boogie Nights, The Dukes of Hazard, and many more movies and TV shows. But before he was gracing screen both big and small, he was a football player for Florida State, playing on a football scholarship in the 1950’s. However, following several severe injuries, he decided that he would focus on acting instead.
Gerald Ford was the 38th President of the United States, and is perhaps most famous for not only pardoning Richard Nixon, but also being the only person to not be elected to either the Vice Presidency nor the Presidency. But before he started in politics, Former President Ford played center for the University of Michigan Wolverines in the 1930s. He was given offers to play for pro football teams after college, but he decided to go to law school at Yale instead.
Bill Goldberg was known as Goldberg in the wrestling world, fighting Lex Luger and Sting, but before he ever entered the ring he was a professional football player. He first played for the Los Angeles Rams before being signed over to the San Francisco Gold Miners and finally the Atlanta Falcons. Before that he played the position of defensive tackle at the University of Georgia. However, a major pelvic injury took him out of professional football.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Way before he ever graced the silver screen, The Rock was our personal favorite wrestler. But it turns out that even before we could ever smell what The Rock was cooking, he was a defensive lineman at the University of Miami, Florida (not to be confused with University of Miami of Ohio). He played there in the early 1990s, and was even able to help lead the team to the national collegiate championships in 1991.
John Wayne is perhaps the most well known star of the Western movie genre. But after a bit of research, we discovered that not only did he play football for the University of Southern California, he also changed his name from Marion Morrison. When Wayne was in school way back in the 1920s he was a really good offensive tackle. However, he only played for two years due to a body surfing injury he incurred.
John Goodman is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood, feeling just as home on the silver screen as he is in a sitcom. It turns out that Goodman was not always an actor, and was a really good football player. He played for what is now called Missouri State University. However, he stopped playing in the middle of his college career following a career ending injury. Having always enjoyed theatre, he decided to focus on that, and has since become a world famous actor.
Trace Adkins is a country music singer who has had chart topper after chart topper for the past three decades. He is perhaps best well known for hits such as (This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing, I Got My Game On, and Just Fishin. However, before all of that, Adkins was a college boy playing football for Louisiana Tech University as a walk on offensive lineman. However, he never played a game and left the team due to a knee injury.
Mark Harmon is the son the famous 1940 Heisman Trophy Winner Tom Harmon. Mark went on to be a star of NCIS, but before that, he was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was the starting quarterback, and he was quite good at it too. He helped lead the Bruins to excellence, especially during an upset against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He was even awarded the National Football Foundation award for overall excellence.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Another President on this list, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States as well as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II. Before that he had a storied military career which began at West Point Military Academy. He played both running back as well as linebacker for West Point, and perhaps most famously, managed to tackle football legend Jim Thorpe.
John Belushi was perhaps one of the funniest people to ever live, and was a constant face on Saturday Night Live before his unfortunate passing following a speedball overdose in 1982. However, before he ever acted he was a football player for his Chicago high school, Wheaton Community High School. He played middle linebacker for the team, and he was so good at it that he received scholarships to University of Western Illinois. However, he turned the scholarship down.
Kris Kristofferson is well known for his role in Planet of the Apes as well as for his role in the country supergroup The Highwaymen comprised of himself, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. But before that he was in college, playing all manner of sports including rugby (helping to re-start the Claremont Colleges Rugby Club), track and field, and of course, football. Interestingly, he even received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford in the UK.
We all know Ed O’Neill from his roles as Jay Pritchett in Modern Family as well as Al Bundy in Married… With Children. However, what we did not know was that he was also quite the talented football player back in his college days. He was a defensive lineman at Ohio University but was kicked out due to his low grades and hard partying. He finally got his degree (and played football) at Youngstown State University.
Will Ferrell is a funny, light hearted individual who captured all of our hearts not only in Saturday Night Live, but also in Zoolander, Austin Powers, Anchorman, Old School, Talladega Nights, and just so many others. It turns out that he also was a football player, and that he played on his high school’s varsity football team. He was a kicker on the team, and from what we could tell, he was a pretty good athlete.
We all know Joel McHale for the roles he reprised in Community and The Soup, but what we did not know was that he actually won a Rose Bowl… ring at least. He was a walk on for the Washington Huskies football team, playing for a year and a half. McHale was part of the scout team offense, and although he never actually played in any games, he “made the defense look terrific.” He also happened to play the year the Huskies won the Rose Bowl.
Suge Knight is perhaps most well known as being the mogul behind Death Row Records which helped to bring the likes of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and the Outlawz to prominence. However, what may be less known about him is that he played college football for University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was then signed on to the Los Angeles Rams in 1987 and played two games for them.
Ron Simmons was a big professional wrestler who was perhaps best known for his tag team performances on Team Doom with Butch Reed. It is probably no surprise however, that Simmons was also a football player both professionally as well as in college. He played for two years for the Cleveland Browns in the early 1980s and also played for Florida State University as a successful defensive nose guard. He also led the Seminoles to back to back Orange Bowls.