Football Players in the Movies
Football Players Turned Actors
There are a lot of football players who transitioned into movie careers. While I’m probably forgetting a whole list of NFL players who had one-shots in Hollywood films, I’ve tried to include football players who have had some of the most notable movie careers.
Often, some of the most successful football player movie stars weren’t very big stars in the NFL. You’ll occasionally have an exception. Here’s our list of “Football Players in the Movies”. Enjoy.
Carl Weathers – Apollo Creed played parts of two seasons with the Oakland Raiders (1970, 1971) and two full seasons with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He went on to play Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies, as well as adding memorable roles in Predator, Action Jackson and Happy Gilmore. My favorite Carl Weathers moments are probably when he played himself on Arrested Development.
Jim Brown – Jim Brown quit the NFL early to start a film career, starring in The Dirty Dozen and later the blaxploitation hero, Slaughter. Also starred in comic roles in Mars Attacks! and I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, as the hard-nosed “Slammer”.
Fred Williamson – 110 listed roles in television and film, as well as 7 years in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. Williamson should be on any NFL-to-movies list based on his role in From Dusk Til Dawn alone.
Frank McRae – Besides playing one season for the Chicago Bears (1967), Frank McRae has had roles in Red Dawn, License To Kill, 48 Hrs., Loaded Weapon, Last Action Hero, 1941, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Used Cars and *batteries not included (yes, it’s not supposed to be capitalized). That’s quite a resume for an old NFL player.
Dwayne Johnson – “The Rock” – Played college football at the University of Miami. Like many of these guys, a knee injury ended his football career. He had a family legacy in wrestling and the rest is history.
Howie Long – Hall of Fame defensive lineman for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders who had roles in Firestorm and Broken Arrow.
Fred Dryer – Former NFL player for the New York Giants and (more famously) for the Los Angeles Rams. Stayed in Hollywood after his career came to an end in 1981 and was cast in the lead role of the hit 1980′s cop drama, Hunter.
Mike Ditka – Was about the only good thing in a stinker of a movie starring Will Ferrell called Kicking & Screaming, where he played himself. Ditka was recruited by Ferrell’s character to help him coach a youth soccer team. Will Ferrell played the serious guy for the first 2/3rds of the movie. Awful.
Brett Favre – While he was wooden in There’s Something About Mary, Brett Favre had a pivotal role in that comic goldmine. Also had a less memorable role as a janitor (along with Mike Holmgren) in Reggie White’s straight-to-video release, Reggie’s Prayer.
Alex Karras – He was the father on the 1980′s sitcom, Webster, but never made a splash in the movies.
Bubba Smith & Dick Butkus – Starred in the Eighties tv show, Blue Thunder, but weren’t much of a factor in the movies, unless you consider Bubba Smith’s roles in the Police Academy movies to be a factor in movie history.
Michael Irvin – Bob Sapp – Terry Bradshaw – Bill Romanowski – Terry Crews – All had a role in the remake of The Longest Yard. Michael Irvin had a larger role, but I wouldn’t give anyone too big of a thumbs up. Bill Romanowski probably had the most screen charisma, but that’s just because his natural craziness came across on the big screen.
Brian Bosworth – I count approximately 8 television show appearances and 8 movie roles, including a cameo in The Longest Yard remake and a lead role in Stone Cold, which was probably underrated. I’ve seen worse.
John Matuszak – 9 NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers, then got into movies with North Dallas Forty and Goonies, among others. Would have had a larger list of credits had he not died way too young.
O.J. Simpson – Before he was killing people and taking other people hostage, O.J. Simpson was famous for his Avis Rental Car commercials and his hilarious roles as the hapless Nordberg in The Naked Gun movies.
Dan Marino – Totally wooden performance in Ace Ventura, but it was a huge movie at the time. “Hey, Ace, got any more of that gum?”
Lawrence Taylor – Besides being a 2-time Superbowl champ and Hall of Fame linebacker, LT played characters in The Waterboy, the Shaft remake and Any Given Sunday.
Don Gibb – After a brief NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, Don Gibb became an actor, most famously playing “Ogre” in the Revenge of the Nerds movies, while also playing Jean-Claude Van Damme’s sidekick in the original Bloodsport.
More Football Players Turned Actors
- Deion Sanders
- Lyle Alzado
- Joe Namath
- Ronald Reagan (college)
- Mark Harmon (UCLA)
- Ed Marinaro (4,000 career yards at Cornell)
- Merlin Olsen (tv actor, Little House on the Prairie)
- Dean Cain (Princeton University)
- Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Even More Football Players Turned Actors
The list of football players turned actors can get pretty obscure, but here’s another list of players turned film stars for you trivia buffs.
- Lester Speight
- Fran Tarkenton
- Ron Simmons
- Mark Schlereth
- Burt Reynolds
- Roy Jefferson
- Bo Jackson
- Ray Nitschke
- Rosie Grier
- Bernie Casey
- Woody Strode
- Ben Davidson
- Roman Gabriel
- Bob Golic
- Ed O’Neil
- Larry Czonka
John Wayne (USC)
Click on the following link to read more about these football players turned actors.
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