The Football Story of “Coming 2 America” Star John Amos

The Football Story of “Coming 2 America” Star John Amos article feature image
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Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage. Pictured: John Amos

At 81 years old, John Amos is far from done. The actor is adding “Coming 2 America” onto his resume, as the sequel to the 1988 classic releases on Amazon on Friday.

Amos, who played Gordy the Weatherman on the “Mary Tyler Moore” show, James on “Good Times,” Kunte Kinte on “Roots” and Percy Fitzwallace on the “West Wing,” might be most famous for his role as Cleo McDowell on “Coming to America.” In the sequel, he’s opening up McDowell’s Zamunda and unveils three new products that we won’t ruin for you.

But what you might not know about Amos is that he could be the most cut football player of all time.

Amos got a scholarship as a running back at Long Beach City College and when things didn’t work out there, he went to Denver University — only to find out they didn’t have a football team. From there, he went back east to Bronx Community College.

When an opening presented itself back west in Fort Collins, Colo., Amos moved his life again. At Colorado State, he rode the bench, but when he was done, got a shot to try out for the Denver Broncos because their camp was at Colorado State.

Due to an injury, he couldn’t run the 40 and was sent back to his dorm. Then he wrote to Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, who agreed to give him a shot. But after three weeks, Amos was given his walking papers. As he waited to find his stolen motorcycle he voluntarily spent three nights in a Liberty, Mo. jail so he could get some sleep.

Upon cutting him, Stram said, “You are not a football player you are a young man who happens to be playing football.”

Amos wasn’t ready to hear that just yet. So off he went to the Canton Bulldogs. He lasted a full season with the Joliet Explorers, where he had a single-game professional high of 142 yards and three touchdowns. 

Other teams that saw Amos on roster: The Norfolk Neptunes, Wheeling Ironmen, Jersey City Jets, Victoria Sealers, B.C. Lions, Brooklyn Dodgers,  Toronto Rifles and Waterbury Orbits.

Amos moved on to writing and acting on the stage and screen and it stuck.

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