Did Ed O’Neill Play in the NFL? All About Modern Family Star’s Football Career

Discover whether Modern Family star Ed O’Neill played in the NFL and explore his football career before becoming an actor.

Published on Jun 19, 2024  |  08:01 PM IST |  277K
Ed O’Neill Play in the NFL (PC:Twitter)
Ed O’Neill Play in the NFL (PC:Twitter)

Ed O'Neill is best known for his iconic television roles. He had a brief and unremarkable encounter with the National Football League (NFL). Despite his talent and dedication, O'Neill never played an official game in the league. 

The closest he came was his stint as an offseason squad member with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 1969, he went undrafted in the NFL Draft but was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent.

Ed O’Neill’s journey from football  to Hollywood

O'Neill's journey in football began with a stellar high school career. Which was at Ursuline High School in Youngstown, Ohio. His prowess on the field earned him an athletic scholarship to Youngstown State University, where he continued to excel as a defensive lineman. However, his professional football aspirations were cut short when he was released by the Steelers during training camp.

ALSO READ: Modern Family Cast Reunites; Feels Sad Since This Member Has Been Left Out Of The Group Chat

Instead of lingering in the hopes of another NFL opportunity, O'Neill made a pivotal decision to return to Youngstown State and pursue his education. This decision marked a significant turning point in his life. It led him away from the field and focused on the performing arts. There, he found his true calling.

O'Neill's transition to acting proved to be immensely successful. Over the years, he has built a remarkable career in both film and television. His filmography includes notable movies such as The Dogs of War, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Wayne's World (1 & 2), The Bone Collector, Redbelt, Wreck-It Ralph, and many more. 


In television, O'Neill has been a consistent presence. He grabbed the attention of his fans with roles in Another World, Moonlighting, The Equalizer, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, and Real Husbands of Hollywood. 

However, it is his portrayals as Al Bundy in Married... with Children and Jay Pritchett in Modern Family that have cemented his place in television history. His role as Jay Pritchett, in particular, spanned 250 episodes. This garnered him high fame and numerous awards.

O'Neill's achievements in acting have been recognized with many awards. They include four Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Award nominations, one TV Land Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His ability to portray beloved characters with depth and humor has made him a fan favorite.

Interestingly, the character of Al Bundy in Married... with Children bears some resemblance to O'Neill's real life. Both were high school football stars who never made it to the big leagues. For O'Neill, the dream of playing professional football remained unfulfilled. It was a regret that had lingered with him for over 52 years.


Why did playing Al Bundy turn out to be a nightmare for Ed O’Neill’?

In a candid revelation on ESPN's The Pat McAfee Show, O'Neill shared the recurring dream. It was a dream that turned out to be a nightmare and has haunted him for decades. 

"When I got cut, every year after that, I would have a recurring dream, at least once or twice a year, and the dream was I'm back in Latrobe, St. Vincent's College, on the sidelines, in uniform, scrimmage going on, and the assistant coach comes out and says, ‘You're in the next series.’ I say, 'OK, coach.’ And that would basically be the dream. Every year."

Also read: Watch: Modern Family’s Ed O’Neil Shares How Being Cut by Pittsburgh Steelers Haunted Him for 52 Years

This dream shows O'Neill's deep-seated desire for his football career. Despite his immense success in acting, the thought of what might have been in football has stayed with him. Let us know in the comments if you even want to see our very own Jay in the field of football. 


Also read: Shaquille O'Neal Recalls Only Player Who Ever Dunked on Him and Embarrassed Him in Front of His Parents

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