Top five athletes on Capitol Hill

Curt Schilling isn't the first professional athlete to consider a bid for public office. There's more crossover between sports and politics than you might think.

By , Staff writer

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    Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, here campaigning for John McCain in 2007, had mulled a Senate run.
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Politics is often described in Washington as "show business for ugly people." Let's expand that analogy a bit and say it could also be seen as "major league sports for the slow."

Pro athletes and national politicians both have to perform in public under pressure, with the media criticizing every move. Both represent particular cities and states. The outcome of this is logical: athletes in politics.

That's the context in which Red Sox legend Curt Schilling talked about running for the US Senate. Here's Decoder's rundown on the top five pro athletes to trade uniforms for constituent service.

Recommended: Politics, Elections, Decoder

Jim Bunning. A US senator from Kentucky, this Republican followed a Hall of Fame baseball career with more than 20 years in politics, progressing to the Senate in 1998. Interestingly, Bunning and Schilling had nearly identical career statistics. Bunning compiled a 223-184 win-loss record, with an earned run average of 3.27. Shilling's was 216-146, and his ERA was 3.46. But Senator Bunning is retiring after this year. And Schilling has said the time's not right for him to run, so there's no chance they'd serve together.
Bill Bradley. First-round draft pick out of Princeton, 10 years in the NBA for the Knicks, elected to basketball's Hall of Fame in 1982. Plus, he was a Rhodes scholar. How annoyingly perfect can one person be? A Democrat, he served New Jersey in the Senate from 1978 to 1996. He got crushed by Al Gore in the 2000 presidential primary.

Jim Ryun. One of the greatest distance runners of all time, he was the last American to hold the world record in the mile. He was also a GOP member of the US House from 1996 to 2007, representing Kansas's second district.

Heath Shuler. OK, we know better football players have served in Congress. And Shuler, a first-round pick out of Tennessee in 1994, was a bust in the pros. But, as a Democrat, Shuler, won a House seat from North Carolina in 2006, and he's young, so Decoder rates him the best current athlete on Capitol Hill.

Ken Dryden. Dryden is one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history. He played 10 years for the Montreal Canadiens, where he was the backbone of five Stanley Cup championship teams. That record makes him the winningest pro athlete in politics, modern era.

Of course, the politics are Canadian. A member of the Liberal Party, Dryden was elected to Canada's Parliament in 2004.

Just think of it as the Northern Division, North American Legislative League.

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