Jan 11, 2010, 12:15 PM EDT
Former Eagles Pro Bowl offensive lineman Jon Runyan won a Congressional seat in the great state of New Jersey last week. We had the chance to ask Big Jon about his quick transition from a career in the NFL to a career in politics, what he misses about playing football in Philadelphia, and whether or not we could donkey-sit his farm animals while he’s away. Our questions and Congressman-elect Runyan’s answers below.
Enrico: It’s been quite a year for you. In November 2009, you were trying out for NFL teams, ultimately landing with the Chargers before retiring and switching gears to politics. Did the change in your life’s direction happen as fast it seemed, or had the political gears started turning prior to the last time you put the pads on?
Jon Runyan: Yes it did happen quite fast. I had considered seeking local office, but when the opportunity to run for Congress presented itself, I jumped at the chance. I had already committed to the Congressional race before I put the pads on for the last time.
Before or during the campaign, did you seek any advice from any friends or mentors from your football career?
I did, and most everyone I talked to just said just be yourself and stay true to who you are and your work ethic.
Did you celebrate last week’s election victory in any way similar to how you’d celebrate a big Eagles win when you were a player?
No, not really. With football I would have the next few days off, this time I had to get right to work.
If you weren’t a former Eagle, do you think you would have won New Jersey’s 3rd district seat? How much of the election was about name recognition versus referendum?
To tell you the truth I have had to overcome a lot of stereotypes that come with being a former athlete. So, while being a former Eagle may have helped with name recognition, it also means that I was held to a higher standard in trying to overcome the dumb-jock stereotype. And, any and all mistakes that I made were magnified due to the stereotype.
What’s dirtier — a pile in the NFL or the stretch run of a political campaign?
Both are about the same but I came to find out that politics is a lot more personal!
What do you miss most about playing for the Eagles in Philadelphia that political life doesn’t provide?
Getting to the gym was part of the job now I have to force myself to do it!
You’re heading to DC, where your old quarterback is now residing. What did you think of McNabb getting benched for a two minute drill and which former Eagle do you see having more success in Washington?
I never second guess a coach’s decision. There are reasons in the background that we may never know about. I wish Don well, but as I try and help change the direction of the country my success would help us leave a better country for our children and grand children.
A lot of people seem frustrated at the prospect of Washington now being stuck in partisan gridlock. What would you say to people who think the two parties aren’t ever going to agree to work together, find a common ground, and take our country in a more positive direction for the future?
Partisan politics has created the problems we are struggling with. We need to learn from our past mistakes and reach across the aisle to help develop policy that will turn this country around!
Finally, were the chest bumps flowing last Tuesday night? and do you need someone to farm-sit your donkeys while you’re in DC? I’m available and fit in well with jackasses.
I gave up chest bumps a while back when a soldier who just came back from Iraq requested one and hit me under the chin and I almost bit my tongue off.
I have turned over all donkey responsibilities to my 13 year old son when I am not around.
Thanks to Jon Runyan for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish him much more success in DC than we did his quarterback.
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