Are you ready for some fooootbaaaaallllll? (Sung in my best Hank Williams Jr. voice) Any good fan knows the NFL season kicks off the Thursday night after Labor Day, and the rest of the teams are in action on Sunday. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a football fan, but they also know my passion for movies. That made me think of NFL football players who turned to acting. Ok, I want to start off right now by eliminating the ones that play extras on a football team, like Michael Irvin of the Dallas Cowboys and Bill Romanowski of the Denver Broncos in Longest Yard. I am also going to eliminate TV actors such as Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams in the TV series Hunter. With the rules set, let’s see who we can come up with.
John Matuszak was the first overall pick in the 1973 NFL draft and a 2-time Super Bowl champion. He played for the Houston Oilers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. He starred with Ringo Starr and Dennis Quad in the 1980s comedy Caveman, where he played the clumsy villain, Tonda. He was probably remembered more for his role as Sloth in the kids adventure movie The Goonies, where he was seen wearing a Raiders T-shirt.
Howie Long was a nine-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Oakland Raiders was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000. Long has many movies to his credit, with supporting roles in Broken Arrow and 3000 Miles to Graceland, but he was the lead star in the action movie Firestorm. He also had a role in Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do, which can be seen in the extended cut of the Blu-Ray or DVD but was cut entirely from the feature release of the film.
Carl Weathers had a very short NFL career. He went un-drafted out of San Diego State University but was signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders. He only played seven games for the Raiders in 1970 and 1971 before starting his acting career, which has proved much better than his football career. Weathers starred with Harrison Ford and Robert Shaw in Force 10 from Navarone, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator, and, most notably as Apollo Creed in Rocky franchise.
Jim Brown was selected in the first round in the 1957 draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was the first running back to rush for more than 10,000 yards in a season and went on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Brown retired from football after only nine seasons, supposedly so he could finish work on a movie he was working on, The Dirty Dozen with Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland and George Kennedy. He had a successful acting career starring in films such as I’m Gonna Get You, Mars Attacks, Slaughter and Any Given Sunday.
Bubba Smith was the first overall pick in the 1967 draft, a Pro-Bowler and a Super Bowl Champion who played for the Houston Oilers and Baltimore Colts. Although he had a great career in the NFL, he is still more memorable as Lt. Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movies.
Want to watch these gridiron greats on the big screen? Pick up one of these movies at your local HPB or at HPB.com. And remember, no talking or texting during the movie!
Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate