Athletes Who Might Be Better at Their Second Career

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2014

Athletes Who Might Be Better at Their Second Career

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    While being a pro athlete has to be a really cool job, eventually it all comes to an end.

    And although there are players out there who don't always do great things during the athletic careers, some have made a bigger name for themselves once they walked away from the game.

    After enjoying a few seasons of playing sports, here are the athletes that are actually better at their second career than their first.

Burt Reynolds

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    Come on now, we all know who Burt Reynolds is.

    A man's man and a recognized actor, Reynolds is more than just a guy who knows how to rock some serious facial hair.

    That's because, while he used to be a star running back for the Florida State Seminoles, it wasn't until an injury caused him to call it quits that he got serious about acting.

    With a number of big-time films and a net worth of over $20 million, I'd say that Burt made the right choice.

Kerri Strug

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    We probably all remember Kerri Strug from her gold-medal moment for the 1996 U.S. women's gymnastics team, when she stuck a vault landing to lock up the top spot.

    And while that was one of the defining sports memories for the red, white and blue, Strug has seen similar victories since walking away from the gym, becoming a teacher in California before moving to Washington D.C. to work at the Office of Presidential Student Correspondence.

    Looks like Kerri is making people remember her for other things.

The Rock

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    If someone told you 10 years ago that then-professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be the biggest action movie star in the world, would you have believed them?

    Chances are probably pretty low.

    But that's what The Rock has become now that he has walked away from a super successful career in the ring which, for better or worse, helped him hone his acting skills while also getting his name and reputation out there.

    The guy has seemingly been in every big movie over the past few years.

Heath Shuler

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    Enjoying a phenomenal college career at Tennessee, former quarterback Heath Shuler's NFL days were, well, less than stellar.

    Chosen third overall by the Washington Redskins, he managed to play just four seasons, throwing 15 touchdowns to 33 interceptions, going just 8-14 in his 22 starts.

    That was all forgotten about when the guy became a U.S. congressman, representing North Carolina, in 2007 though, showing that there was more beneath that helmet than just a player who couldn't read defenses.

    Shuler also showed to have a humorous side, as he joined other NFL busts in a recent commercial for the upcoming football season.

Kevin Johnson

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    The seventh overall selection in the 1987 NBA draft and three-time All-Star, former NBA guard Kevin Johnson was a threat to go off any time he took the court during his playing days.

    He wasn't the biggest or strongest guy—hell, he dislocated his shoulder following a celebratory hug from Charles Barkley—but he always got the job done.

    And the city of Sacramento couldn't agree with that more.

    That's because Johnson—as mayor of the California city—helped keep the city's Kings from relocating last year, along with handling more serious issues like addressing violence and homelessness.

Michael Strahan

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    What in the hell has former defensive end Michael Strahan not done in his life?

    Playing 15 years for the New York Giants, Strahan not only won a Super Bowl title with the team but just recently earned a spot in the Hall of Fame, making his legacy one that is forever etched in stone.

    That might sound like a hell of a lot of good things for the guy, but since his football career has ended, Strahan has starred on a TV show, sat in as a studio analyst for NFL on Fox and is now a host on Good Morning America.

    It seems like the guy can do it all.

Brent Jones

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    A four-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion during his 11 years with the San Francisco 49ers, former tight end Brent Jones played with a rough and tough style that was respected by his teammates.

    It's probably that same mentality that has helped Jones as a managing director at a private equity firm that he co-founded in 2000, giving him some serious cash and lots of pull in the financial service industry.

Pat Riley

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    Pat Riley enjoyed great success as an NBA player after being selected seventh overall by the San Diego Rockets in 1967, eventually winning an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it wasn't until he retired that he really showed his worth.

    And that would be as a master coach and eventual salesman.

    Even before persuading three potential Hall of Famers to joint forces on the Miami Heat in 2010, Riley had already won five titles as a head coach and, thanks to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Riles added two more rings to his fingers as an executive.

Reggie Wilkes

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    A former NFL linebacker who played on the 1980 Philadelphia Eagles team that lost to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV, Reggie Wilkes wasn't a star by any means, but he still remained in the league for 10 seasons.

    And while most guys were enjoying their downtime in the offseason, Wilkes was doing anything but, spending his time working at Merrill Lynch, helping him prep for his career following football.

    These days, he owns the Wilkes Group, which helps high-worth individuals like, say, athletes, manage their money.

Bill Bradley

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    Inducted into the Hall of Fame after winning two NBA titles with the New York Knicks, former forward Bill Bradley may have had a great 10-year playing career, but it was politics that eventually made him an even bigger name.

    On top of running for the democratic nomination for presidency in 2000—which didn't work out for him—Bradley eventually resigned from his post as a senator and now hosts a radio show.

    I would say he's getting the most out of that Princeton degree he earned.

George Foreman

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    George Foreman might be best known as the former heavyweight champion of the world, but based off of his more than $200 million earned since 1995, it's no wonder he's recognized as the Marketing Champ of the World, too.

    Thanks to his endorsement deal with the company Salton Inc.—who makes the grill bearing his name—Foreman has seen even more success with kitchen gloves on than he did with his boxing gloves on.

Phil Jackson

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    Although he may be the new leader of the New York Knicks—hired in March as team president to run the franchise—Phil Jackson made his name as the greatest head coach in NBA history.

    While Jackson did win two titles with the Knicks during the 1970 and '73 seasons, it wasn't until he stepped onto the sidelines in a suit and tie that he really stood out, winning 11 more championships with the Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers before now going back to the Big Apple.