Top 5 Presidents to Play College Football
Since the game of college football was created in the 1800s, the sport has been intertwined with the United States’ presidency. In honor of Election Day, here are the top five U.S. presidents that played football in college.
5: John F. Kennedy-
During his time at Harvard, Kennedy was involved in many of the Crimson’s athletics. Kennedy made both the golf and swimming team, but his collegiate football career began his freshman year. Having experience playing football growing up, Kennedy was prepared to play the “End” position for the varsity team. Ultimately, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website, Kennedy “did not progress beyond the JV [Junior Varsity] team due to illness and injury.”
In addition to JFK, brothers Robert and Edward Kennedy played football at Harvard and were more successful. John F. Kennedy went on to serve as the 35th President of the United States from 1961 until 1963.
4: Richard Nixon-
Starting his football career at Fullerton Union High School in Orange County, California, Nixon played mostly as a tackle. When he attended Whittier College in the 30’s, Nixon
was on the varsity football team, but served as a “reserve tackle,” according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Nixon went on to serve as the 37th “POTUS” from 1969 until 1974.
3: Ronald Reagan-
Much like Nixon, Reagan played his collegiate career at a small school. Along with being a member of a fraternity and being elected as the student body president, Reagan joined the football team. Reagan spent time on the offensive line as a guard and a tackle.
Still, Reagan’s biggest claim to football fame was his role as George Gipp in the 1940 film, “Knute Rockne, All American. Reagan gained National fame from this role, but the nickname “The Gipper” stuck with him throughout his lifetime.
Regan eventually retired from his acting career, and went on to serve as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 until 1989.
2: Dwight D. Eisenhower-
Arguably one of the most famed generals in American history, Eisenhower also spent time leading the Army West Point football team. Eisenhower started at both running back and linebacker for the service academy in 1912 and helped the team to a 5-3 record.
During the 1912 season, Eisenhower was a part of the famous Army-Carlisle game where he competed against future Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe. The Cadets lost to the Indians’ football team that day 27-6.
Eisenhower was promoted to the rank of General in 1944 and later served as the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961.
1: Gerald Ford-
As a member of the most notable football team, the Michigan Wolverines, Ford played as a center, linebacker, and long snapper from 1931 until 1934.
Ford was a part of two Big Ten conference titles and two national championships- both occurring in 1932 and 1933. In addition, Ford participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl in 1935.
Ford was in office as the Commander in Chief from 1974 until 1977 as the 38th President of the United States. Ford’s number, 48, was retired by the University of Michigan in 1994.