John Amos wanted to be a professional football player before acting
Can you imagine another actor as James Evans? It's almost impossible even to picture someone else playing the head of the Evans household on Norman Lear's Good Times. However, if John Amos' football career had taken off, his credit for playing a fan-favorite television father would've never happened.
Amos didn't grow up wanting to be a legendary actor — he didn't even think about an acting career at all until his dreams of playing in the National Football League (NFL) were cut short.
The San Bernardino County Sun said good times didn't happen for the actor until he "admitted that he was never going to make it in professional football."
"It took five or six years — I don't remember exactly — of rejection from a lot of coaches," Amos told the publication in 1975. In 1964, he signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos but could not run a 40-yard dash because of a pulled hamstring and was released from the team on the second day of training camp.
In 1967, after playing for a few minor league teams, he signed another free agent contract, this time with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was eventually cut from the team and went on to play for a few Canadian teams before turning in his shoulder pads for a new career.
He supported himself as an advertising and comedy writer before moving in front of the camera as a TV commercial actor. Amos was the face of many brands like Pillsbury and McDonald's. Then, his big break came when he got the opportunity to play Gordy, the weatherman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Norman Lear saw Amos in action, not from his MTMS appearances, but from a stage play performance and knew he'd be the perfect James Evans.
Sometimes, rejection is a clear sign that you need to go in a different direction. And we're glad Amos did because he built a legendary acting career, and the only pad he had to use was a writing pad to get started.
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