In the 2012 election, two NFL wide receivers with Atlanta connections ran for public office. One, Jimmy Farris, who played for the Atlanta Falcons, came up short in his bid to unseat an Idaho congressman. But another denied the Republican favored to win a majority, forcing a runoff. On Tuesday, December 4, we'll see if this ex-NFL player, Ruben Hairston, becomes the newest sheriff for Troup County, an hour away from downtown Atlanta.
Hairston played football for Troup County High School in the 1970s and made it all the way to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1980. When his NFL days were done, he got involved in local law enforcement as well as a football camp for kids.
Hairston, a former Troup County marshal and Homeland Security investigator, won the Democratic nomination, while the Republicans saw a bitter primary leading to a defeat of the incumbent sheriff. An independent candidate, Clay Bryant (best known for his cases connected to "Cold Case," ran as well. The Republican, James Woodruff, finished first. But Hairston finished second, forcing the runoff, as no candidate got 50 percent of the vote.
Woodruff is a respected, experienced law enforcement official, and he picked up an endorsement from Bryant. But Hairston was endorsed by the outgoing sheriff, which could make things interesting in Tuesday's runoff.
Farris and Hairston aren't the only NFLers in politics today. New Jersey Rep. Jon Runyan, a lineman from the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles, was reelected. North Carolina Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler was gerrymandered out of a district, but he should run for another office in the future. Ditto for Clint Didier, the Washington Redskins tight end who ran for Senate from the state of Washington and for public lands commissioner this year.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.
- Politics & Government
- American Football
- Atlanta Falcons
- Troup County High School
- Jimmy Farris