25 Awesome Film Roles By Professional Athletes

The career of a professional athlete, regardless the sport, usually has a very brief life compared to other professions. According to science, the average human’s physical prime usually begins to fade from the early to mid-30s, quite a young age by social and biological standards. So what happens when professional athletes have to retire and do something else for a living? Here’s a list of 25 cases where athletes couldn’t stay away from the camera flashes and starlight and pursued an acting career seeking more money and glory.

Last Updated on


Terry Bradshaw, Cannonball Run


Terry Bradshaw is a “giant” of American football who tried his hand in the film industry shortly after he retired from the sport. He played for fourteen seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and won four Super Bowl titles in a six-year period, becoming the first quarterback in history to win four Super Bowls. His charismatic personality and bright smile helped him launch a broadcasting career once he was done on the field and landed him multiple minor roles in three Burt Reynolds (with whom he shared a friendship) movies, Hooper, Smokey and the Bandit II, and Cannonball Run, for which he’s best remembered.


O. J. Simpson, The Naked Gun Films


Before O. J. become notorious worldwide for his criminal acts, he was known as one of the greatest running backs in the NFL; he broke several records and won many awards and trophies. After he retired from football Simpson became a successful broadcaster and actor. His hilarious roles in all three Naked Gun films are by far the best in his career and every time we watch him in them we can’t believe what a douchebag he turned out to be.


Ray Nitschke, The Longest Yard


You will most likely find the name of Ray Nitschke near the top of every poll and ranking of the ten greatest American football players in history and this shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially if you take into account his accolades: a member of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, three-time first-team All-Pro selection, five NFL championships (pre-Super Bowl days) and two Super Bowl victories for a total seven championship rings, a decorated member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and last but not least, his #66 jersey is one of the few to be retired by the Green Bay Packers for which he played for fifteen seasons. Even though he never pursued a full-blown acting career he pleasantly surprised everybody with his unexpected acting skills in The Longest Yard starring Burt Reynolds.


John Matuszak, The Goonies


Every child who grew up in the ‘80s probably watched The Goonies more than once and loved John Matuszak without even really knowing it. See, the man behind the deformed “monster” named Sloth was the 6’8˝ and 300-something-pound former NFL star who played for five different teams and helped the Oakland Raiders win two Super Bowls before he retired in 1982. Additionally, he was the NFL’s number one draft in 1973, and in 2005 Sports Illustrated named him one of the top five all-time “bad boys” who ever played in the NFL.


Randy Couture, The Expendables


Randy Couture is, along with Fedor Emelianenko, Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre, one of the greatest and most popular fighters in the history of the fastest-growing sport in the world, MMA. After Couture became the first of only two fighters (B. J. Penn being the other) to hold two UFC championship titles in two different divisions and won the UFC title a total six times (a record), he found a physically less-taxing way to make money and became an actor.

Make no mistake, we don’t think Randy’s a good actor or anything, but in a film like The Expendables where he’s the only non-professional actor in the main cast, we were surprised to see he wasn’t the worst actor in the bunch. For that fact alone, he gets an honorable mention here.

SEE ALSO: Biggest Rip Offs That You've Probably Been Tricked Into Buying »

NOW WATCH: 25 Bizarre Cat Facts You Need To Know

Subscribe to List25

What do you think?

0 points
Upvote Downvote
25 Greatest Boxers In History Outside Of North America

25 Greatest Boxers In History Outside Of North America

25 Surprisingly Scary Short Stories To Color Your Dreams With Fright

25 Surprisingly Scary Short Stories