3 Athletes Who Launched Unusual Second Careers

Jason Hanold
4 min readOct 26, 2023

While most people are just getting warmed up in their careers by their late 20s and early 30s, for many professional athletes, this marks a time when they need to pause and consider what they will do after retiring from the sports world.

People who are fortunate and talented enough to make it in the dynamic and demanding world of professional sports develop highly desirable skills that can easily be translated to other vocations. After following a rigorous training schedule for years, sports stars are no strangers to discipline and consistency. In addition, athletes who represent their country at international competitions benefit from the opportunity to build up a global network of contacts, regularly networking with people from all over the world.

In this article, we look at some of the more unusual career moves athletes have made after retiring from professional sports.

Napoleon Kaufman

Oakland Raiders NFL star Napoleon Kaufman grew up in Lompoc, California, 55 miles from Santa Barbara. In high school, Kaufman earned himself an enviable reputation as one of the greatest high school running backs in California prep history.

Napoleon Kaufman played for the Raiders from 1995 to 2000. He was also an exceptional track athlete, having established himself as the CIF California State Champion in the 100 and 200 meter sprint as a junior, as well as being an accomplished long jumper, boasting a personal best of over 24 feet.

In his football career, Napoleon Kaufman established several impressive records, including setting the franchise mark for rushing yards when he rushed 227 yards in a game against the previously undefeated Denver Broncos.

During the latter part of his career as a professional sportsman, Napoleon Kaufman served as chaplain to the Oakland Raiders, baptizing several of his teammates. Following the end of the 2000 NFL season, Napoleon Kaufman retired abruptly, pursuing a career as a Christian minister. Today, he is the senior pastor at The Well Christian Community Church in Livermore, California, serving more than 1,000 regular worshippers. Kaufman’s wife also serves as a pastor, with two other former Raiders players serving in leadership roles within his church, and Hall of Famer Ron Woodson also a member.

Jesse Ventura

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 15, 1951, Jesse “The Body” Ventura earned fame and fortune in the World Wrestling Federation arena as a fabled performer and commentator, earning him a place in the WWE Hall of Fame. Prior to his career in wrestling, Jesse Ventura served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War, but did not see combat. Ventura graduated in BUD/S class 58, joining an underwater demolition team.

While working as a professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura also embarked on an acting career, starring in both Predator and The Running Man alongside fellow muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Like Schwarzenegger, Ventura ventured into politics. Ventura was elected mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota in 1991, retaining the position until 1995. In the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election, Jesse Ventura ran a low-budget campaign with the Reform Party, defeating both Republican and Democratic nominees in a shocking win.

As the 38th governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura oversaw reforms of the state’s property tax and first sales tax rebate, as well as well as spearheading income tax cuts and playing a leading role in establishing the METRO Blue Line light rail system in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. Ventura became a visiting fellow at Harvard University after leaving office in 2003 and has authored several books as well as hosting various political television shows.

Jack Nicklaus

One of the world’s most accomplished and celebrated golfers of all time, Jack Nicklaus won a staggering 117 professional tournaments over the course of his career, winning the Masters six times, the PGA Championship five times, the US Open four times, and the Open Championship three times.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1940, Nicklaus’s sporting moniker was “The Golden Bear.” A keen athlete in his youth, he excelled in several sports, including track and field, tennis, baseball, and football.

Jack Nicklaus was 10 years old when he took up golf, scoring a 51 in the first nine holes he ever played. Under the tutelage of coach and former PGA Tour player Jack Grout, Nicklaus started winning titles by the age of 12, launching an extremely successful career in professional golf despite contracting polio as a 13-year-old.

At 65 years old, Jack Nicklaus played at The Open Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2005, the game marking his last game as a professional golfer. He received a 10-minute standing ovation, ending his career with a 15-foot birdie on the 18th green.

Following his retirement from professional golf, Jack Nicklaus launched a golf course design business, which grew to become one of the world’s largest and most successful golf design practices. The company has designed golf courses across America, Australia, Canada, and Europe, including 12 courses that rank among Golf Digest’s “75 Best Golf Resorts in North America.”

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Jason Hanold

Executive Recruiter, clients NFL, Google, Patagonia, Under Armour, Gucci, Nike, Northwestern, eBay, UFC, Vail, REI, Electronic Arts, Live Nation, #HR #Recruiter