50 Best Athlete Cameos Ever
Athletes are as big a draw, if not bigger, than any celebrity out there. Which is why they are routinely cast in movies and television, despite what is normally considered a complete lack of acting ability. When it comes down to it, an actor's job is to put asses in the seats, and who knows how to put asses in the seats better than a professional athlete?
Whether playing extremely unconvincing versions of themselves, or a different character altogether, a good cameo by an athlete is usually a memorable moment. Some cameos are surprisingly good and others definitely fall into the "so bad they're good" category.
Let's take a look at the 50 best athletes cameos ever.
50. Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, Seinfeld
Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams were one of a number of Yankees to guest star on Seinfeld during the time when George worked for the organization. In this episode George gives up sex, which expands his mind by leaps and bounds, allowing him to give batting tips to Steinbrenner's boys.
49. Chris Bosh, Entourage
Heat big man Chris Bosh made a cameo at one of Vince's parties in Entourage late in the series run. Bosh's lady friends were not enthused with the free tequila Turtle was offering and Bosh generously offers up $1,000 to the bartender if he can get his hands on some vodka for the ladies. The acting isn't impressive, but Bosh doesn't fall flat on his face.
48. Joe Namath, the Brady Bunch
Retired Jets great Joe Namath's cameo in The Brady Bunch definitely falls into the "so bad it's good" category. Namath tried his hand at acting for a while after retiring from the NFL, but it didn't really work out for him; after watching this clip, there's no wonder why.
47. Kobe Bryant, Modern Family
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had a cameo as himself in the third season finale of ABC's hit comedy Modern Family. His part was very brief, but at least it wasn't cut out entirely like his teammates Paul Gasol and Luke Walton.
46. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Talladega Nights
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of a number of NASCAR drivers who play themselves in Will Ferrell's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Earnhardt is plenty believable as an enthusiastic yet secret fan of Ricky Bobby, one of his fellow NASCAR drivers.
45. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
The video quality leaves a bit to be desired, but Chase Utley and Ryan Howard made the dreams of some fans come true when they partied with the stars of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia during a guest starring role in 2010.
The whole event eventually descends into a bare chested, drunken wrestling match. Typical Philly party.
44. The Rock, the Mummy Returns
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson gives a WWE worth performance as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns. The CGI creation is about as ridiculous as it gets, but Johnson's outlandish Scorpion King is the only thing worth watching in this DOA dud.
43. Michael Phelps, Entourage
Entourage was known for it's brief, and often completely irrelevant, celebrity cameos, but Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps' comically brief appearance in 2008 is by far the most ridiculous.
But considering how painfully tedious his hosting gig was on Saturday Night Live, this part was definitely more tailored to his acting abilities.
42. Phil Mickelson, Entourage
I'm a huge Phil Mickelson fan, so I thought his turn playing himself on Entourage was fantastic. But I must admit that his Phil Mickelson impression needs a little work—this is one of the more awkward, yet great, guest spots in the show's history.
41. Kevin Garnett, Jamie Foxx Show
Famed Celtics big man Kevin Garnett guest starred in The Jamie Foxx Show in 2000 and played the potential owner of the size 22 shoe Jamie found under his girl's bed.
40. Roger Clemens, Kingpin
Formerly retired former Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens had a brief, but hilarious cameo on the Farrelly brothers classic Kingpin.
39. Lamar Odom, Entourage
(Then) Lakers forward Lamar Odom guest starred on Entourage in 2009 and his manly calves became the object of Johnny Drama's infatuation. After Vince's big brother asked him what his secret was, Odom (rightly) called Drama a freak before bailing on the awkward scene.
38. Lance Armstrong, Dodgeball
Cycling great Lance Armstrong had a cameo in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story in which he has a brief encounter with Vice Vaughn's character, Peter, and convinces him to rejoin the team he skipped out on.
37. Paul O'Neill, Seinfeld
One of a number of Yankees who guest starred on Seinfeld, nice guy Paul O'Neill was put in the awkward position of having to live up to Kramer's promise that he'd hit two home runs for a sick kid in the hospital.
O'Neill hilariously explains that hitting home runs isn't exactly an easy activity.
36. Larry Bird, Space Jam
We all know that the Michael Jordan-starring vehicle Space Jam wasn't exactly an Oscar caliber film, but that doesn't mean the ridiculous romp didn't have its moments.
The best moment being the golf scene that also features Celtics great Larry Bird, in addition to comedy legend Bill Murray and famed agitator Wayne Knight, best known as Newman on Seinfeld.
35. Brian Urlacher, Entourage
Late in the series run, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had a guest spot on Entourage as one of Turtle's many potential athlete investors in a tequila company. Urlacher was a surprisingly easy sell on the idea, but threatened to kill Turtle if he lost his money.
And I do believe he would.
34. Scottie Pippen, the Cleveland Show
Legendary Bulls forward Scottie Pippen guest starred on the legendarily bad FOX cartoon The Cleveland Show in 2010. Pippen and one of the title characters sing a duet of the original song "Balls Deep."
33. Muggsy Bogues, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Retired NBA point guard Muggsy Bogues had a random cameo as himself in Larry David's HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2004.
Larry and sardonic pal Richard Lewis have a chance encounter with Bogues in the men's room and to say things get awkward would be an understatement.
32. Alex Karras, Blazing Saddles
Retired NFL player and wrestler Alex Karras actually starred with his real life wife in the 80's family comedy Webster, but his role in the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles has better stood the test of time. Karras played Mongo who famously slugs a horse for parking illegally.
31. Reggie Jackson, the Jeffersons
Retired Yankees great Reggie Jackson had a guest starring role in the hit 80's sitcom The Jeffersons. In "The Unnatural," George Jefferson's wife seeks out Jackson to help get him out of a funk after George fails to hang on to a home run ball he snagged at Yankee Stadium.
30. Drew Brees, Entourage
After winning the Super Bowl, Saints quarterback Drew Brees landed a guest spot on Entourage as one of Turtle's potential tequila investors. Brees is believably skeptical after Turtle tells him he's trying to cut Mark Cuban out as an investor, but the fact that he's filming a commercial holding a baby duck is laying on the good guy image a bit thick.
29. Joe Namath, the Simpsons
Jets great "Broadway Joe" Namath had a memorable cameo as himself in The Simpsons season nine episode "Bart Starr."
Bart is struggling in pee-wee football and conveniently runs into the legendary Namath who offers up the key to success in the game, but runs off after his car finally restarts before having a chance to hook Bart up with his wisdom.
28. Shaquille O'Neal, Curb Your Enthusiasm
In typical Larry David fashion, he manages to seriously injure Shaquille O'Neal at a Lakers game without even trying during an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Naturally, he incurs the wrath of the entire Staples Center in the aftermath of the tripping incident.
27. Adrian Peterson, Entourage
The Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson had one of the most hilariously random cameos in Entourage's entire run. He showed up at an auction that Vince was at because, in Nicolas Cage fashion, he was selling a dinosaur skull.
Peterson's ability to deliver the line, "You guys trying to buy my skull," with a straight face is a true testament to his talents.
26. Lawrence Taylor, the Waterboy
In The Waterboy, Adam Sandler's story of stuttering rage-fueled football hero Bobby Boucher, Giants great Lawrence Taylor, playing himself, has a cameo as the coach of of a children's football camp.
LT brings in the bumbling Boucher to give a motivating speech to the kids, but follows it up with a well-time warning about not smoking crack.
25. Andre the Giant, the Princess Bride
In the 80's classic The Princess Bride, former wrestler Andre the Giant stars as Fezzik, a giant from Greenland. Far more than a bit part, Fezzik is the sidekick of Inigo Montoya, the Spanish fencing master whose thirst for revenge is the driving force of the movie.
24. Chuck Liddell, Entourage
UFC badass Chuck Liddell did a guest spot on Entourage where he gets into a parking lot skirmish with Johnny Drama. Liddell plays a more than convincing tough guy with a heart in the face of Drama's absolutely unnecessary confrontational aggression.
23. Bill Buckner, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Showing he's got a surprisingly good sense of humor considering the hell he was put through after bobbling that ball against the Mets and costing the Red Sox their first World Series since selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees, Bill Buckner appeared as himself on Larry David's hilarious HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm.
22. LeBron James, Entourage
Heat superstar LeBron James played it very smart in his cameo on Entourage.
LeBron took the less is more approach while playing the good cop to actor Matt Damon's surprisingly intimidating bad cop in trying to get Vince to shell out some cash for the kids.
21. Dale Earnhardt, BASEketball
The late, great Dale Earndardt may be gone, but he won't soon be forgotten. Nor will his appearance in the cult classic BASEketball as the NASCAR driver moonlighting as a raccoon-hitting speed demon of a taxi driver.
20. Cam Neely, Dumb and Dumber
In the Jim Carey classic Dumb and Dumber, legendary Bruin Cam Neely plays confrontational trucker Sea Bass.
After being plunked with a salt shaker, Sea Bass is urged by his friends to kick Harry's ass by, but instead opts for spitting a disgusting loogie on his meal.
19. O.J. Simpson, the Naked Gun
Before giving up his acting career in favor of being a double murderer and memorabilia heist organizer, former NFL running back O.J. Simpson actually had some Hollywood success. "The Juice's" most memorable role was Detective Nordberg in the Leslie Nielsen Naked Gun trilogy.
18. Mike Ditka, Kicking and Screaming
It's almost impossible to imagine legendary NFL big mouth Mike Ditka turning in a restrained, understated acting performance. Which is probably why he decided on a Will Ferrell flick for his big screen acting debut.
Ditka played himself in Kicking and Screaming, and the performance was so believable that it felt like a glimpse into his private life.
17.Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Strahan, Amar'e Stoudemire, Entourage
New York superstars Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Amar'e Stoudemire and Michael Strahan all comically shot down Entourage's Turtle and his pleas for more startup cash for a restaurant during an episode in the series' final season.
A-Rod's defense of a sensitive Teixeira is particularly amusing and unexpected.
16. Brett Favre, There's Something About Mary
There are very few clips of There's Something About Mary online, but mercifully retired quarterback Brett Favre's cameo is a fan favorite. Favre plays Mary's ex-boyfriend who she ultimately rejects for Ted because, in her words, she's "a Niners fan."
15. Wilt Chamberlain, Conan the Destroyer
The legendarily lanky NBA big man Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain took some time off from loving the ladies to appear in the Arnold Schwarzenegger class Conan the Destroyer in 1985. In an over the top performance, Chamberlain played Bombaata, a warrior sent to check up on Conan and ultimately betray him. It's predictably ridiculous.
14. Dan Marino, Ace Ventura
No one would ever mistake retired Dolphins great Dan Marino for Daniel Day Lewis, but despite his absolute void of acting talent, Marino manages to bring a certain something to his acting roles. Marino's fantastically wooden performance in the Jim Carey swan song Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was a welcome respite from Carey's patented overacting.
13. Jerry Jones, Entourage
Despite the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones pronounces Ari's name as "Air-ee," his guest stint on Entourage actually wasn't half bad.
Maybe I just have really low expectations when it comes to the acting abilities of those in the sports world, but Jerry Jones's solid performance as Jerry Jones was befitting of the NFL's preeminent showman.
12. Reggie Jackson, Naked Gun
Joining a number of sports figures like O.J. Simpson, Dick Vitale, Jay Johnstone and Mel Allen, retired Yankee great Reggie Jackson had a cameo in The Naked Gun. Jackson joined the cast as an unexpected assassin.
11. Lee Trevino, Happy Gilmore
Formulaic to a fault, most Adam Sandler movies have an odd reoccurring character that makes periodic appearances throughout the film, but is in no way relevant to the plot. Usually this character is played by Rob Schneider, but in Happy Gilmore it was played by Mexican-American golfer Lee Trevino.
His main contribution to the film is refuting Shooter McGavin's assertion that Grizzly Adams did not have a beard, which, while completely unnecessary, was undeniably funny.
10. Keith Hernandez, Seinfeld
Keith Hernandez's cameo on Seinfeld as the object of both Elaine and Jerry's affections stretched of a two-episode arch and is one of the more memorable story lines of the show's nine-year run.
9. Tom Brady, Entourage
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady proved his acting chops during his impressive hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. Usually I judge athletes acting on a sliding scale, but Brady is actually pretty good even up against actual actors. The rich just get richer.
8. John McEnroe, Mr. Deeds
The only thing that saved Mr. Deeds from being one of countless Adam Sandler throwaway movies was John McEnroe's amazing cameo in the film.
Playing himself, the "original bad boy of tennis," McEnroe and Deeds embark on a night of hell raising shenanigans that are relieved on a tabloid news show the next morning.
7. Derek Jeter, the Other Guys
Derek Jeter's cameo in the Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell buddy cop film The Other Guys is part of a plot point in which Wahlberg's amped up character accidentally shoots Jeter in Yankee Stadium right before Game 7 of the World Series—costing the Yanks a championship.
The support group that he attends to deal with the incident is, as you would expect in New York, unsupportive, leading to the movies two most hilarious lines:
On Jeter: "He's a biracial angel!"
On the shooting: "You shoulda shot A-Rod!"
6. Mike Tyson, the Hangover
The Hangover was one of the surprise comedic hits of the last decade. And considering the standout performances by Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, it's pretty impressive that Mike Tyson's cameo as a musically moved Mike Tyson manages to stand out.
Tyson's performance in the movie seemed to springboard him back into the public consciousness and the good graces of the movie going public.
5. Mike Tyson, Entourage
Mike Tyson's guest spot on Entourage was surprisingly believable, particularly as an aspiring actor looking to star as Mike Brady in a Brady Bunch remake with Jessica Simpson playing the part of Carol.
How that hasn't been made yet is anybody's guess.
4. Kevin McHale, Cheers
Celtics great Kevin McHale guest starred on the legendary NBC sitcom Cheers twice during the series run. In "Where Have All The Floorboards Gone," McHale becomes obsessed with finding out the number of bolts in the Boston Garden's floor after a question posed by the boys while McHale was delivering a Celtics jacket to Norm for his 40th birthday.
The obsession becomes a major distraction and eventually impacts McHale's game in a big way.
3. Bob Uecker, Major League
Former MLB catcher-turned-broadcaster/actor Bob Uecker was one of the standout stars of Major League, despite Harry Doyle being a relatively minor role. Uecker was just icing on the cake in the first movie, but was one of the only bright spots in the two cinematic travesties that followed up in what became one of the least necessary/watchable trilogies ever.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Airplane
Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a fair amount of acting success in his post-playing day career. But it was his role of co-pilot Roger Murdock in the hilarious Leslie Nielsen disaster spoof Airplane! that really stands head and shoulders above the others.
1. Don Mattingly, the Simpsons
Don Mattingly is one of a number of athletes that guest starred in The Simpsons episode "Homer at Bat," one of the greatest episodes in the series 100 year run.
Mattingly famously couldn't please Mr. Burns with the length of his sideburns, eventually driving him to a very ridiculous haircut that costs him a place on the softball team.
The End! I Hope You'll Follow Me on Twitter
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!