Popular Culture

10 Great Football Stars Who Sucked As Actors


You can’t get much better than watching the formerly glittering careers of sports stars bail into obscurity. Call us cruel, but it can be a treat, especially if it’s a hated player from a rival team or just an all round douchebag.

In the history of celebrity-sports crossovers it almost always seems to be the players who are most desperate to make it in Hollywood who fall on their faces the hardest – and just plain suck. Here we look at the top ten.

10. Fred Dryer

Somewhat legendary LA Rams defensive end Fred Dryer is probably best known for his record two safeties in one game, and is certainly unique for being the only NFL player to appear on the front of Warhol’s iconic magazine Interview. He’s also known for his drab performances on the screen, most notably as the lead character in cop drama classic Hunter. Never before or since has a man with as bad a receding hairline as his been considered for the cool good guy role. He’s now the spokesman for law firm Injury Solutions. Crunch!

9. Brian Bosworth

One of the biggest letdowns of the professional football circuit, Brian “Boz” Bosworth was best known for his controversial career in college football, his overblown rookie contract with the Seahawks, and his atrocious collections of ’80s haircuts. Check out that mullet!

The linebacker’s short run in the NFL was no bad thing, however, for he has entertained fans of the ironic ever since with his performances in various knuckleheaded movies of ill-repute and tenuous synopsis. In 1991’s Stone Cold, Boz plays a police officer on leave for his overly violent treatment of criminals, only to be recruited as an undercover agent instructed to infiltrate a gang of psychopathic white supremacists. Classic.

8. Howie Long

It’s said you should never hit someone with glasses on; in Howie’s case it would be a death sentence. The giant former Raiders DE and hall-of-famer won various accolades for his ability to stop people dead and generally wreak defensive havoc, and is now seeing out his later years sporting a pair of specs.

His acting career has seen him “star” in such films as Broken Arrow and the appallingly poor 3000 miles to Graceland, in which his paltry role was only marginally worse than that of every single other cast member. Just don’t tell him we said that…

7. Rosey Grier

Rosey Grier is a legend. Not only did he feature in the indomitable “Fearsome Foursome,” take down Sirhan Sirhan during the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and have the nuts to make his own range of books teaching needlepoint to men; he’s also starred in a cornucopia of movie roles. Shame he sucks at acting, then. The Giants and Rams icon has appeared in such highbrow offerings as sitcom Make Room for Granddaddy and appalling movie The Thing With Two Heads. Avoid.

6. Alex Karras

Now a veritable silver fox, 75-year-old ex pro-wrestler and Detroit Lions DT Alex Karras is another player who decided that the logical career path for him after football was on the silver screen.

Suffice to say logic is clearly not his strong point, as his acting ability is comparable to a child lying about their homework. Aside from a memorable role as Mongo in the excellent Blazing Saddles, he has appeared in only the most painful of roles – in movies ranging from from Porky’s to Victor Victoria.

5. Jim Brown

He may be the greatest running back ever to have played the game, but since his retirement as the Browns’ bulldozing fullback in 1965, currently chrome-domed meathead Jim Brown has been in a glut of productions – not all of them as pretty as his glittering record as a player.

Would it be fair to say all the productions sucked? Maybe not. The Dirty Dozen was awesome. However, following its release in ’67, Brown descended somewhat, with most roles accounting for little more than cameos, including in 1987’s The Running Man, where he somewhat less than sizzled as Fireball.

4. Merlin Olsen

Sporting the kind of beard, name and general image that everyone’s grandpa should rock, good ol’ Merl – another member of “The Fearsome Foursome” – was in and out of small-screen “stardom” after retiring as a DT sometime around the Civil War. Sadly, of course, he is no longer with us.

Olsen played the eponymous foster carer in the series Father Murphy, after a stint on the childhood daytime television yawn-o-thon of morality Little House On The Prairie. It’s not that he totally sucked, but in acting terms his performances were, at best, lackluster. We’re certain the wholesome facial hair was the secret to his success.

3. OJ Simpson

OJ hardly needs an introduction, with a reputation as a total freakin’ nutcase who might have committed a murder or two and was convicted for a handful of other major felonies, resulting in a 33-years jail sentence handed out in 2008. Once upon a time, of course, he actually had a more than solid reputation, though more on the football field as the Bills’ record-breaking running back than on the movie screen.

Aside from a few semi-acceptable appearances in the Naked Gun franchise – where he was clearly helped by appearing alongside the late, great Leslie Nielsen – OJ has given ‘meh’ performances in a handful of bad action movies such as the weird British disaster effort The Cassandra Crossing.

2. John Matuszak

Any kid of the ’80s or early ’90s will immediately recognize defensive linesman Matuszak as a total legend thanks to his appearance as Sloth in The Goonies, and anyone born before that time will probably better know him as one of the hardest partying NFL characters of all time.

The two-time Raiders Superbowl winner died tragically of an overdose at the age of just 38, but that didn’t stop him from sucking big time in a number of Hollywood productions. Notable sucks include The Ice Pirates and the bizarre Beatles side project Caveman. Don’t ask…

1. Dick Butkus

Sporting one of the funnier names in football history, hall-of-famer Dick Butkus spent his football career at the Chicago Bears as one of the all time great linebackers. Then he went on to endorse the Qwik Cook Grill. Oh, and he did some acting along the way.

Butkus’ theatrical prowess ensured his appearance in critically acclaimed masterpieces such as Rich Man Poor Man, Murder She Wrote and MacGyver. Which basically means he’s probably the most recognized celebrity amongst senior citizens, ever.

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