Best Surprise Athlete Cameos

Dan CarsonTrending Lead WriterMarch 10, 2014

Best Surprise Athlete Cameos

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    Screenshot via YouTube

    Is there anything better than a star athlete randomly walking into a movie or show? I submit there is not.

    Athletes trying to act are so innocent and eager to please. You can tell that performing on camera makes them far more nervous than competing in sports, and most of them are scared witless by the prospect of screwing it up. 

    Even better, athletes doing cameos tend to have less than vital roles—hence the cameo part. Most of their appearances are born when a producer friend asks if they wanted to be in [movie/TV show/project], and some writer is forced to shoehorn them into the preexisting script.

    Paradoxically, these elements contribute to making surprise athlete cameos some of the most satisfying and memorable moments. The following are 21 of the best surprise athlete cameos.

    We didn't see them coming, but our inner fan is so glad they stepped up and answered the call.

21. Hines Ward in "The Dark Knight Rises"

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    Most annoying national anthem rendition of all time? Maybe.

    If you thought the setup to this scene was a bit over the top, watching Hines Ward return the hell out of this opening kick was The Dark Knight Rises' shark-jump moment. Had he failed at any point to take this rock the entire distance, Ward would've been dead along with the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers his team

    Crowning Moment: 

    Screenshot.

20. Shaquille O'Neal in "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

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    Warning: Video contains NSFW language.

    Larry David attends a Lakers game and—in true Staples Center form—managed to make a pair of celebrities the biggest story of the game.

    Crowning Moment: "It was an accident!"

19. Derek Jeter in "The Other Guys"

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    Pointless, outrageous and awfully acted.

    Yup, Derek Jeter's appearance in The Other Guys nailed every requirement necessary for a Hall of Fame-level athlete cameo.

    Crowning Moment: "He's a biracial angel!!"

18. Kobe Bryant in "Hang Time"

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    Painfully awkward dialogue? Check. Young Kobe Bryant styling at the gym? Roger that.

    Hang Time had some strong athlete cameos during its run, but the '90s TV show outdid itself by having a teenage Kobe take down a squad of bullies in pickup basketball. 

    Crowning Moment: 

    Screenshot

17. LeBron James in "Entourage"

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    LeBron James didn't do anything during his brief appearance on Entourage besides stand there and be LeBron James.

    That's all he had to do, considering basketball fans around the nation were squealing like fangirls when James randomly popped out of the car with Matt Damon. What can we say? Entourage fans bask in celebrity appearances.

    Crowning Moment: "I gave a million, Vince."

16. Brett Favre in "There's Something About Mary"

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    "What the hell is Brett Favre doing here?"

    It's a fair question.

    Brett Favre shows up out of nowhere in There's Something About Mary, swooping in on Ted's woman and intimidating everyone.

    Crowning Moment: "But what about Brett...Fawv..ruh?"

15. Joe Namath in "The Simpsons"

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    Behold, Joe "Willie" Namath in all his Simpson-ized glory. 

    You don't have to know what's being said, you just need to know it's good, old-fashioned Howard Cosell-style weirdness.

    Crowning Moment: "Foppish follicles."

14. Adrian Peterson in "Entourage"

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    Oh, nothing—just Adrian Peterson, purveyor of rare dinosaur fossils.

    Entourage didn't have the best writing in television, but no other series managed to work in more completely random—but perfect—athlete cameos.

    Crowning Moment: "You guys trying to buy my skull?"

    Screenshot

13. Bill Buckner in "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

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    Warning: Video contains NSFW language.

    Bill Buckner must be forgiven.

    It's difficult, but the man has done his time. He's taken crap every day of his life since 1986, and this 2011 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm was Buckner's hilarious, final goodbye to his past as whipping boy for Red Sox fans. 

    Crowning Moment: "Don't let the door go between your legs on the way out, Buckner!"

12. Muggsy Bogues in "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

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    Larry David cannot have nice things.

    Everywhere he goes, the creator of Seinfeld manages to ruin everything with his awkward sense of social boundaries. Naturally, he managed to tick off Muggsy Bogues seconds after making his acquaintance by staring at the former ballplayer's cash and prizes in the bathroom.

    It could've been anyone who walked in through that door, but it was Bogues—perhaps the second most random NBA player next to LaRue Martin.

    Crowning Moment: "You looking at my [bleep]??"

11. Dale Earnhardt in "BASEketball"

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    Hooray for high speed raccoon crushing!

    Dale Earnhardt showing up in BASEketball was about an unexpected as cameos come. It also included about 100 times more animal death than most athlete appearances in cinema.

    Crowning Moment: "YAAAY!"

10. Detlef Schrempf and Roy Hibbert on "Parks and Rec"

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    Whenever you can work Detlef Schrempf and Roy Hibbert into your television show for no reason at all, you're doing something right.

    Crowning Moment: [Swat]

9. Lance Armstrong in "Dodgeball"

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    Say what you want about Lance Armstrong and his reigning role as one of the biggest nozzles in pro sports—the man nailed this cameo in Dodgeball.

    Armstrong truly came out of nowhere, and knowing what we know now, the irony in his speech about perseverance is thick enough to spread on Triscuits. 

    Crowning Moment: "So what are you dying from?" 

8 Lawrence Taylor in the "The Waterboy"

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    To this day, LT's appearance in The Waterboy remains one of the most oft-quoted cameos in film history.*

    *Findings based on drunken, late night conversation with friends.

    Crowning Moment: [Heads nodding].

7. Dan Marino in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"

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    Warning: Video contains NSFW content and language.

    Dan Marino was part of the most memorable scene in Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Please note: During the '90s, an A-list athlete could point out a transvestite's bean hammock in a major motion picture and still maintain his sponsors.

    Crowning Moment: 

    Screenshot.

6. Don Mattingly in "The Simpsons"

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    Don Mattingly and his scandalous sideburns were too much for Mr. Burns to handle. 

    No matter what Mattingly did, he couldn't figure out the proper sideburn length to appease the dictatorial manager.

    Crowning Moment: "Still like him better than Steinbrenner."

5. John McEnroe in "Mr. Deeds"

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    "Holy cannoli, you're John McEnroe."

    Deeds said the only thing you can say when John McEnroe comes out of nowhere and congratulates you after a fist fight. 

    Also, as unexpected as McEnroe's appearance was, his acting chops were probably the biggest surprise from his cameo appearance in Mr. Deeds. Then again, the role wasn't much of a stretch.

    Crowning Moment: "That I do."

4. Mike Tyson in "The Hangover"

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    Warning: Video contains NSFW language.

    This weird, tiger-centric cameo brought Mike Tyson back to life in the public eye. 

    Between the Phil Collins sing-along, right hook to the face and vague references to a friend being eaten by a jungle cat, the only thing missing from Tyson's appearance was a pair of white doves on his shoulders.

    Crowning Moment: "Don't worry about Omar. He's not with us no more."

3. Cam Neely in "Dumb & Dumber"

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    Warning: Video contains NSFW language.

    NHL star/nice person Cam Neely played "Sea Bass" in Dumb & Dumber—a fact that took some of us years to figure out.

    Crowning Moment: "I would never do anything to offend a man of your size."

2. Bob Uecker in "Major League"

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    Warning: Video contains NSFW language.

    Having a pro sportscaster in your movie is cool, but having one take his character as far as Bob Uecker took his role as Harry Doyle makes for legendary moments.

    Crowning Moment: Is beyond obvious.

1. Chuck Norris in "Dodgeball"

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    "Yes! YES!" 

    This was the only reaction possible when the camera panned to Chuck Norris at the end of Dodgeball. There was no reason for it, and that's why it was beautiful. 

    Crowning Moment: "[Bleeping] Chuck Norris."