November 03, 2010
When Jon Runyan(notes) was introduced as the Philadelphia Eagles biggest free-agent signing of 2000, the offensive lineman strode into the announcement wearing a green hard hat and carrying a shovel. Six years, and one conference title, later, Runyan was voted second-dirtiest player in the league.
Willing to roll up his sleeves? A little bit underhanded? Able to perform in big moments? Media conscious enough to work the press with transparent displays of folksiness? Runyan's NFL traits will serve him well in his new job: United States congressman.
The Republican candidate, who played in the NFL for 14 seasons, was elected to Congress in New Jersey's third district on Tuesday. He defeated incumbent John Adler in a closely watched race which had gained national attention. Runyan's victory was an early bellweather that the night would be good for the GOP. The party took back the House and made gains in the Senate.
During the election's final days, Runyan fended off criticisms of his donkeys (seriously) and was able to capitalize when Adler was reportedly involved in an attempt to plant another candidate on the ballot. It was suspected that Adler would have done so to siphon off votes from Runyan.
Runyan, 36, will join Byron "Whizzer" White, Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts and Heath Shuler, among others, as NFL players who held major public office. If his congressional career is anything like his NFL career, Runyan should do all right. During his 14-year NFL career, the offensive lineman was 7-2 when visiting D.C. to play the Redskins.
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