CFL Blitz: Former CFLers find fame in other arenas

Before he was a wrestling star and later an actor, Dwayne

Before he was a wrestling star and later an actor, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (right) was a member of the Calgary Stampeders. (QMI Agency file photo)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:10 PM ET

When Peter Lougheed passed away last week, his short football career was a minor footnote among his list of great accomplishments.

But the 14-year Alberta premier isn’t alone in making a stop in the CFL before going on to greater things. Lougheed spent two seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos (1949-50) but will naturally be remembered for his political life.

So what do two U.S. congressmen, two wrestling stars and the man who beat Rocky to a pulp all have in common?

They all had careers in the CFL before going on to much more notoriety in a different field.

Here are a few men whose fame outside of football overshadows their time in the CFL:

Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson

Following a short stint on the Calgary Stampeders practice roster in ’95, the University of Miami defensive lineman turned his talents towards professional wrestling.

Johnson’s charisma with the microphone was better than anything he did on the football field, and he later moved into acting.

Over the past decade, he’s been one of the most recognizable movie stars. The Rock has even made a couple of football movies, but those are just as forgettable as his CFL career.

Don Getty

It was Lougheed who pushed Getty into politics, asking him to run in the ’67 Alberta provincial election, and it turned out well for the former Eskimos star.

Eventually, Getty would succeed Lougheed as Alberta premier in ’85 and hold the position until ’92.

In football, however, Getty did have a more accomplished career than Lougheed, playing as a quarterback for 10 years and throwing for 8,952 yards.

J.C. Watts

After six seasons with the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Toronto Argonauts (’81-86), Watts returned home to Oklahoma and entered politics. The former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback was a Republican congressman from ’95 to 2003.

Jack Kemp

In ’59, after bouncing around the NFL, Kemp had a failed attempt at making the Stampeders. He went on to play in the AFL before moving into politics, and that’s where he really shined. He served nine terms as a congressman for New York and was the running mate of Bob Dole in the ’96 presidential election.

His biggest contribution to the CFL was son Jimmy, who played nine seasons (’94-2002) with four different teams.

Gene Kiniski

Born near Edmonton, Kiniski played three seasons with his hometown Eskimos (1949, ’52-53) before getting recruited into the world of professional wrestling.

Big Thunder would spent about 40 years in the pro wrestling game.

Woody Strode

Along with three other players, Strode helped break the colour barrier in professional football before he came to the Stampeders and helped them to an undefeated season in ’48.

However, most would remember him as the gladiator who battles Kirk Douglas in Spartacus.

Carl Weathers

Before he took on Rocky, Weathers was battling the Eskimos, Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Division. After spending three seasons as a B.C. Lions linebacker (’71-73), the New Orleans native moved into acting, where his best-known role was as Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies.

Bobby Hosea

Before he was cast as The Juice in The O.J. Simpson Story, Hosea spent a year in the defensive secondary for the Montreal Alouettes. The UCLA product is still a busy character actor.

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While there are too many former CFL players with great careers outside of football to list, here are a few other notable names: John Sopinka (Supreme Court of Canada justice), Herb Capozzi (Founder of The Keg), Steve Paproski (Member of Parliament) and Bob Rumball (Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf).


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