Some athletes aren’t exactly Shakespearean on the silver screen. In fact, it can be downright uncomfortable watching athletes attempt to act; bordering on painful. For the many bad performances, there are some athletes who can bring their 'A' game and have a gift for the spotlight like The Rock.
Either way, cameos in feature films by athletes are always fun and interesting. Seeing the jocks in different elements with tiny little actors by their sides is a great visual contradiction. It wasn’t too long ago that some of these same athletes were tormenting these tiny acting geeks in high school. How times have changed.
Sports and entertainment are nearly one in the same - minus the HGH, steroids and 24/7 weight training. The collective "we" love watching athletes and entertainers mingle. And what better place for them to do so than in feature films? Below is a list of some of the best athlete cameos of all time. These short scenes made these athletes and the films they starred in, wait for it, legendary! These are the top 10 best cameos by athletes in movies!
10 Ronda Rousey – Furious 7
9 John Salley – Bad Boys
8 Brett Favre – There's Something About Mary
7 Mike Tyson – The Hangover
"Iron" Mike Tyson has gone from insanely-dominating boxer to cultural icon to a punchline. Tyson’s career started as a brawler who exploded on the boxing scene and quickly became heavyweight champion of the world. He silenced competitors with vicious uppercuts and the world fell in love with Iron Mike. Along the way, however, he got caught doing some bad things; biting ears (I was at that fight in Vegas…weird), was convicted of rape and had to serve prison time. Tyson seemed like a story gone wrong. Then he appeared in the movie The Hangover and knocked out Zach Galifianakis with one punch. He also added some solid dialogue later in the film holding a tiny rat-looking dog. The spot won him more cameos and a place back in our collective hearts. Iron Mike’s still got it.
6 Dan Marino – Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
5 Lawrence Taylor – The Waterboy
4 Derek Jeter – The Other Guys
3 Reggie Jackson – Naked Gun
2 Tom Brady – Ted 2
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Airplane
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also known as Lew Alcindor, was a beast in college at UCLA, dominating the basketball court on both ends. Once he entered the NBA, he was no less dominant. He used the "skyhook" as a devastating weapon and was untouchable. Abdul-Jabbar was also known for his rough personality off the court. That’s why in 1980, it was so surprising when he played co-pilot Roger Murdock in the slapstick hit, Airplane. A young boy insists that “Murdock” is actually the basketball legend and this amazing exchange occurs:
Joey: Wait a minute. I know you. You're Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Roger Murdock: I'm sorry, son, but you must have me confused with someone else. My name is Roger Murdock. I'm the co-pilot.
Joey: You are Kareem! I've seen you play. My dad's got season tickets.
Roger Murdock: I think you should go back to your seat now, Joey. Right, Clarence?
Captain Oveur: Nahhhhhh, he's not bothering anyone. Let him stay here.
Roger Murdock: But just remember, my name is...
[showing his nametag]
Roger Murdock: ROGER MURDOCK. I'm an airline pilot.
Joey: I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense.
[Kareem gets angry]
Joey: And he says that lots of times, you don't even run down court. And that you don't really try... except during the playoffs.
Roger Murdock: [breaking character] The hell I don't! LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night! Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!
When Murdock loses consciousness later in the film, he is carried from the cockpit wearing Abdul-Jabbar's goggles and yellow Lakers' shorts. Easily the best athlete-in-a-movie performance ever. Hats off to Abdul-Jabbar for topping our list and having a fantastic sense of humor!