Professional athletes with a second career while active?

Walking down memory lane by surfing Wikipedia on the weekend, I remembered Dr. Peter Kunter, a German goalkeeper from the 60s and 70s who until this day holds the distinction of being the only player on the roster of a professional German soccer team with a doctor title.

Dr. Kunter pursued his medical studies while playing soccer on the highest level. He eventually received his doctorate in dentistry and opened his own dental practice (among his first patients were his team mates). He ran the dental practice full time while he was concurrently pursuing his career as a professional soccer player.

I wonder if there are examples of other professional athletes who successfully worked in different jobs while they were still active professional athletes?

I’ve never heard of a player having two jobs, but many have continued their education during the off season such as Steve Young, law school, Tony LaRussa, law school, Alan Page, law school and now a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and Bobby Brown and Doc Medich both studied medicine, Brown retiring to become a doctor.

There were some players who played weekends while in the service and many who played a second sport in the off season including Gene Conley who won a World Series with the Milwaukee Braves and followed it up by winning an NBA championship with the Celtics.

There were many. In the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s, before players pay exploded (and both required and afforded virtually year-round training), most pro athletes worked off-season jobs because they had to. Just in my community there were pro athletes involved all sorts of business/professions - often car, insurance or liquor sales, which capitalized on their name recognition - but also manufacturing, investments and legal and medical careers. Some are still around. Others continued to play their sport in winter baseball leagues or barnstorming exhibitions to make extra money.

One notable example was Dr. Frank Ryan, who got his Ph.D. in mathematics while playing pro football and taught at Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve) and Rice University while playing quarterback for the Browns.

In the Canadian Football League, the minimum base salary for a season is $43,000, so working in the off-season is not uncommon.

And of course there’s professional curler and beer store manager Glenn Howard. Talk about a double threat! :slight_smile:

Dr. Randy Gregg was another hockey player (defenseman) who moonlighted as a physician (or perhaps it was the other way around…).

And famously diagnosed teammate Grant Fuhr’s appendicitis.

Socrates was a Brazilian footballer who captained Brazil in at least one World Cup. He was also a qualified doctor of medicine and got his degree while playing professional football.

Kurt Russell played minor league baseball while an actor in the 70s.

He was also a well-known philosopher.

I know the most about golf.

hall of Fame golfer Cary Middlecoff was a licensed Dentist.

Gil Morgan has a doctor of Optometry.

Many golfers have second careers in Golf Course Design but that would be expected.

Ian Poulter is heavily involved in his own apparel business.

I can think of two prominent athletes who became dentists:

Heisman Tophy winner Billy Cannon and Cy Young Award winning pitcher Jim Lonborg

Chuck Conners played major league baseball while establishing himself with an acting career. In 1951, we was the starting first baseman for the Cubs, but he quit baseball the next year.

Up until 1960 or so, you could have a career in more than one sport. Gene Conley was one of the more successful, winning both a World Series and an NBA championship and playing both sports from 1958-1963.

Bobby Brown was third baseman for the Yankees from 1946-52 while studying for a medical degree.

All the time until the 1960’s, 1970s. Professional sports was for many players a part-time job, one they did during the winter.

Bobby Jones wasn’t a professional golfer, but he regularly beat world-class professionals of his day while primarily making his living as a lawyer.

Back in the Fifties, when Tom Landry was a defensive back and (later) defensive coach of the New York Giants, he worked for an insurance company in Manhattan in the off-season and much of the week during the regular season.

That’s where he started wearing his trademark hat.


Outside of the United States, it was even later.

In the late 1980s, i was friends with quite a few professional rugby league players in Australia. They included player who were not merely reserves or journeyman, but who had been selected for the State of Origin teams (equivalent of All-Star) and in some cases had been selected for the Australian national team. Every one of them had jobs outside of rugby, and not just in the off-season; they all worked during the season too.

My best friend of the group, who played 9 State of Origin games, was trained as a bricklayer, and worked in that capacity during the week, even during the football season. Four or five days a week he would be up early enough to get to a job site by 7.00 a.m., and would spend the day laying bricks, sometimes heading straight for team practice after work.

Another guy, who played 25 international matches for Australia and was named a couple of years ago as one of the 100 Greatest Players of the first 100 years of Australian Rugby League, owned and managed a liquor store. Another player worked as a scaffolder, constructing the scaffolding used by construction crews working on high-rise buildings. Another was in college to become a physical therapist. And a few worked with me in the cellar of the Leagues Club, helping with things like emptying slot machines, taking deliveries of liquor and beer, making sure the bars were stocked, etc., etc.

No, you’re thinking of Socrates.

But he was pretty good with a football:slight_smile:

Gabrielle Reece, professional volleyball player, sports announcer, fashion model and actress.

Having another job is common enought that I’d say it’s probably the rule rather than the exception in fighting sports like boxing and MMA. Until professional fighters reach the highest levels of the sport it’s not always a good idea to quit one’s day job.