J.C. Watts

Julius Caesar “J. C.” Watts, Jr. (born November 18, 1957) is an American politician from Oklahoma who was a college football quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and later played professionally in the Canadian Football League. Watts served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican, representing Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.

Watts was born and raised in Eufaula, Oklahoma, in a rural impoverished neighborhood. After being one of the first children to attend an integrated elementary school, he became a high school quarterback and gained a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. He graduated from college in 1981 with a degree in journalism and became a football player in the Canadian Football League until his retirement in 1986.

Watts became a Baptist minister and was elected in 1990 to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission as the first African-American in Oklahoma to win statewide office. He successfully ran for Congress in 1994 and was re-elected to three additional terms with increasing vote margins. Watts delivered the Republican response to Bill Clinton‘s 1997 State of the Union address and was elected Chair of the House Republican Conference in 1998. He retired in 2003 and turned to lobbying and business work, also occasionally serving as a political commentator.