Doc Five: College football players turned famous actors – No. 2, Ed O’Neill, Youngstown State

Dr. Saturday

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.


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No. 2 – Ed O’Neill

If you ever watched the television hit “Married… With Children,” you might recall main character Al Bundy recounting his exploits as a star high school football player at Polk High.

You know, all-city, four touchdowns in one game.

Well, the man who played Bundy, Ed O’Neill, wasn’t fibbing about his football career, which extended far beyond high school to a brief stint in the NFL.

O'Neill earned a scholarship to Ohio University, played there a couple years before transferring back to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio and to Youngstown State. He was a defensive lineman for the Penguins in 1967 and 1968 and was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969.

But like Bundy, O'Neill’s football fame was fleeting. The Steelers cut him in training camp and he wasn’t signed by another team.

So, O’Neill decided to pursue other interests. Unlike some of the other college football players turned actors on this list, O’Neill didn’t immediately go into acting. Even though he acted in high school and dabbled in it in college, he wasn’t sure that was his calling. So he spent some time teaching before finally deciding to move to New York to pursue acting at 30 years old in 1977.

All of O’Neill’s early credits come from the stage, but his first big television break was his 10-year stint on "Married… With Children" that began in 1987. O’Neill went on to star in movies such as "The Bone Collector," "Dutch" and "Little Giants". He had also had small parts in "Wayne’s World" and "Wayne’s World 2."

He was also a reoccurring character on NBC’s "West Wing."

However, most people now know O’Neill as patriarch Jay Pitchett in the hit comedy "Modern Family." Pritchett was a quarterback in his college years and now enjoys watching the sport.

Stay tuned Friday for the top Doc 5 former college football player turned actor. The result might surprise you. And spoiler alert, it’s not O.J.

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