August 26, 2017
The next time you request a ride from Uber, there could be a familiar face looking back at you from the rearview mirror once you hop in the backseat. It just might be a little tough to recognize him without the helmet and shoulder pads on.
That's because Jon Runyan – yes, that Jon Runyan, the one who spent nine of his 14 seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles – has actually been driving for Uber for almost nine months now.
And before you ask, he isn't broke.
Still, that was the reaction from some last week when a story popped up on Crossing Broad about the former All-Pro offensive lineman being an Uber driver, even though he made more than $40 million in his NFL career and has continued to work throughout his post-football life – in addition to his work on radio on and TV, Runyan was a two-term U.S. Representative former New Jersey's 3rd congressional district (2011-2015) and is about to enter his second season as the NFL's Vice President of Policy and Rules Administration.
So, no, Runyan isn't driving for Uber because he needs the money. The truth is, he just gets bored sometimes.
After finding out about Runyan's side job, we reached out to ask the fairly recognizable former NFL star about his decision to become an Uber driver, what his experience has been like – especially when he picks up Eagles fans – and what he thinks the future holds for his former team.
Clearly, this isn't about the money – and that makes it even more interesting – so what made you decide to become an Uber driver?
JON RUNYAN: “I think one of the best things – it’s actually in their commercial – is you can pretty much do it whenever you want. So it’s not like you – you’re actually punching a clock, but on your own time. It’s a hell of a business model.
“It’s actually interesting to sit there and do it. If it’s your main source of income, you’ve got to be pretty disciplined about it, to be everywhere at the same time.”
How long have you been doing it?
“I do it occasionally. I’ve probably done it like seven to 10 times since [I started] around the first of the year, maybe late December.”
What makes you decide to open the app and go pick someone up??
“Sometimes you’ll just be sitting around the house, my girls are out doing what they do, and the wife and I are sitting there like, ‘Are we doing anything tonight?’ and she'll be like, ‘No.’
"So I’ll say that I’m going to go open the Uber app and see if anyone needs a ride.
“Like the last one I had, I think there was a concert at the [BB&T] Pavilion in Camden, and I was just sitting in the house and there were people from town who just wanted a ride down to the concert. So I took them.”
Any horror stories?
“No. Not yet. [Laugh]”
Any funny stories about fans recognizing you?
“Yeah, that’s happened here and there. I had a group of guys – probably about a month ago – and one of the guys looked over at me and was like, ‘You’re Jon Runyan, aren’t you?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah.’
"He had a big Eagles tattoo on the inside of his bicep.”
What about fans who didn’t recognize you and were talking smack on the Birds?
“No. That has not happened. Occasionally I’ve had people start talking about [the Eagles] and then they start talking [to me] and they’ll recognize my voice from radio or something like that. They eventually figure it out.”
What do you listen to in the car?
“I put Pandora radio on.”
What’s your go-to Pandora station?
“I’m a country music guy but I know some people get offended by that, so I usually put on classic rock. Eventually after 10-15 minutes in the car, you’ll know one of the songs, even if you don’t listen to it.”
Do you know of any other ex-athletes who do this?
“No, I haven’t talked to any of them. I’ve heard rumors that someone else on the Eagles has been doing it. I don’t know.”
I saw you were in the press box at the game the other night – what do you think of the Eagles this year?
“It’s the preseason; I’ll put it that way. I was actually talking to Merrill Reese about it and how they say they don’t gameplan in the preseason. Doug [Pederson] learned his trade from Andy [Reid]. And Andy never game planned for the preseason. Sometimes it would get frustrating because if the other team decides to throw some stuff at you, you’re going to look pretty bad if you’re not ready for it...
“But I think that as far as having a better team on paper, yeah. I mean, they have a better one than they’ve had in the past.”
Speaking of game planning, have you ever thought of coaching?
“Yeah, but I also like to have a life. That’s part of the reason I haven’t whole-heartedly pursued coaching.”
Your son is at Michigan, so I didn’t know if it was something that maybe you thought about trying once your daughters were grown too… but I don’t blame you for wanting to have a life.
“Hell, I spent the better part of 18 years of my life, between college and pros, watching guys who were professional coaches and the amount of time that’s invested in it. You better be full-on with it, because you’re not getting much time at home.”
And even less time to be an Uber driver…
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