Eddie George’s road to sports stardom was about what you expected it would be.
He became a breakout player in high school while attending Fork Union Military Academy, and that allowed him the opportunity to go on to play college football at Ohio State. The pressure of playing for such a national power can get to some players, and while George had a challenging start to his college career, he would more than make up for it in his final two years in Columbus.
He was the go-to player on the ground during his junior year, but what he did in his senior year was what fans still talk about to this day. George won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for nearly 2,000 yards on the season and even set an Ohio State single-game rushing record in the process. The transition to the professional ranks was yet another welcome challenge for the star running back.
George was drafted at No. 14 by the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) in the 1996 NFL draft, but as is the case with all players who go so early in the draft, no one knew for sure if he would live up to the hype. It’s safe to say that he most definitely did. He made an impact right away by winning the Rookie of the Year award, and continued to do so for many years.
George was known for his toughness as a member of the Tennessee Titans franchise, and never missed a start during his time with the team. He rushed for over 10,000 yards during his NFL career, which is a milestone that very few running backs reach. His hard work in college earned him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011. His hard work in the pros earned him four Pro Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl appearance.
As you would expect, his love for football made its way to his kids. George’s son, Jaire, is a running back at Vanderbilt, and you can bet that he’s learned a thing or two about playing that position from his dad.
So after a life of playing and teaching football, you would think that we’d find George on a college or professional coaching staff. But instead, we find him starring on Broadway. Wait, what?
That’s right – the former Titans player is now playing a leading role in one of Broadway’s most popular productions, “Chicago.” He makes his Broadway debut as sharp-tongued lawyer, Billy Flynn, who manages to win the cases of leading ladies Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart when they are both accused of murder – not bad for a first role on theatre’s biggest stage.
But “Chicago” is hardly his first accomplishment in the acting world. George has weaved himself into the fabric of Nashville’s theater scene over the past several years with performances in a myriad of shows. 2015 saw George starring in the Nashville Repertory Theatre’s moving production of “The Whipping Man,” where he played the role of Simon, a former slave in a post Civil War-South. Prior to his Nashville Rep debut, the football legend spent two years with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, starring as the title character in both “Othello” and “Julius Caesar.”
While he’s garnered much success in theatre, George has also been a part of other elements of the art world, making several appearances in film and television. Just some of the programs you may have seen him in include as a judge on the short-lived NBC series “American Dream Builders,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!” on IFC and even a cameo in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s 2007 sports comedy, “The Game Plan,” among many others.
While he’s managed to make a home for himself both on the football field and on stage, George still continues to grow his resume. Every week, the football star-turned-actor hosts a podcast appropriately titled “By George!” featuring a variety of people in the world of arts, entertainment, athletics, politics and more as they talk about the adversities they’ve faced in life and share words of wisdom.
With a track record as expansive as this, it’s clear that George shows no plans of slowing down anytime soon. George continues his Broadway debut all this month, completing his “Chicago” run on Feb. 28. To see what other projects the actor, athlete and entrepreneur is working on, check out his official website.