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Runyan says he will run for Congress

Ex-Eagle Jon Runyan will run for Congress after one final NFL season as a San Diego Charger, a statement issued in his name said.

Ex-Eagle Jon Runyan will run for Congress after one final NFL season as a San Diego Charger, a statement issued in his name said.

The plan is for the right offensive tackle and Mount Laurel resident to challenge Democratic Rep. John Adler next year in New Jersey's 3d Congressional District, a traditional Republican stronghold.

"Win or lose, these will be my final games as an NFL player," Runyan said in the statement. ". . . I personally informed the Republican county chairmen . . . that after the season is over I plan to officially retire from football and pursue a campaign for the United States Congress."

"I look forward to a successful end to my career on the field, and a spirited campaign against Congressman Adler in 2010."

The statement was sent out by Chris Russell, a political consultant working with Runyan and the Burlington County GOP.

Adler was elected in 2008, in part riding the Democratic wave that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency. Republican James Saxton had held the office, representing much of Burlington and Ocean Counties, for 24 years.

Next year, having a new Republican governor, Chris Christie, is likely to help the party's chances.

Athletes have had a place in politics before.

Bill Bradley became a longtime U.S. Senator in New Jersey and even a presidential hopeful after being a star basketball player for Princeton University and the New York Knicks.

Jack Kemp, Steve Largent, J. C. Watts and Heath Shuler were all elected to Congress after playing in the NFL.

In 2006, Lynn Swann, a hall of fame receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ran as a Republican in an unsuccessful bid to defeat Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

Two years ago, Burlington County Republicans persuaded former Philadelphia Flyer Brian Propp to run for Assembly, but he lost.

Runyan joined the Eagles in 2000, signing a free-agent deal that reportedly made him the league's highest paid offensive lineman. He was drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1996 and remained with the franchise as it morphed into the Tennessee Titans.

Runyan, 36, became popular with Philadelphia fans for his dependable, hard-nosed play - he played 144 consecutive regular-season games for the Eagles - and was a frequent guest on local sport-talks radio.

A large coffee can be "chest-bump-worthy," according to a memorable McDonald's ad featuring Runyan.

The Eagles declined to re-sign Runyan after last season, as he worked to recover from knee surgery.

The Chargers signed him this week after their starting right tackle, Jeromey Clary, suffered a season-ending ankle injury on Sunday.