Once the fame and glory of these athlete’s pro football career was over, they decided to turn to acting. For some, it worked out as a full-time gig, while for others it was just simple cameos that referenced their playing days. Here are some clear examples of players who fit into these categories. While some pro athletes become amazing entrepreneurs, as you can read more about on the Jason Hanold WordPress page, in this case, they made a career shift and made their previously founded fame work for them on the big and small screen.
Charles Aaron Smith, better known as Bubba Smith, was an American professional football player in the NFL with teams like the Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers from 1967 to 1976, as a defensive end. Due to the combination of being 6 foot and 7 inches-tall and weighing in at 265 lbs., he was extremely fast, earning him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988. He later took on some comedic roles in movies, commercials and programs, including Miller Lite and one of his most well-known roles, Moses Hightower in the “Police Academy” movies. He later passed away in 2011 at the age of 66, but is still recognized for his work on and off the field.
Although Carl Weathers is more well-known for his acting career, he actually started off playing for the Oakland Raiders and the B.C. Lions, where he played since 1970, until 1974. Despite his original career path, his true passion was always acting, which is why he decided to change his career and became well recognized for many of his movies. Some of the most recognized was his role as Apollo Creed in Rocky, Dillon in Predator and others where he actually played himself like the sitcom Arrested Development. He still continues to work as an actor today.
Ed Marinaro is known both on and off the field. On the field, he was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1971. And off the field, he has portrayed a football player on the sitcom Blue Mountain State. He also had a recognized role on the series Hill Street Blues, as Officer Joe Coffey from 1981 to 1986. He played for a total of six seasons in the NFL, where he played for the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks.
Orenthal James Simpson, although known for his professional football career is more remembered for his involvement in his ex-wife’s death, Nicole Brown-Simpson. Even though he was acquitted of the murders of her and her friend, Ronald Goldman, a civil court was awarded against Simpson for their wrongful deaths in 1997. His professional career, and life in the spotlight, began in 1968, when he won the Heisman Trophy. He played in the NFL as a running back for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. He actually set a record in 1973 by running more than 2,000 yards in a single season. Along with this one, he holds several records like the single season yards-per-game average. His exceptional work on the field landed him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He retired from football but did not leave the spotlight. He went on to work as an actor and broadcaster. His case has recently come back to light with the TV series, The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, where he is played by Cuba Gooding Jr. As an actor, he himself made it to the screen in movies like The Naked Gun, The Towering Inferno, Capricorn One and others. He made the news once again in 2007, when he was put on trial again and convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping, among other felonies. He is still in prison waiting out his 33-year sentence, with a minimum of 9 years without parole.
This famous quarterback played in the NFL for 14 seasons and later went on to become a recognized actor. Bradshaw’s leadership was clear from the beginning in the Pittsburgh Steelers, always demonstrating his skills as a quarterback with a powerful arm. His appearance in four Super Bowls left behind 932 yards and 9 touchdowns, which were both records at the moment and until he retired. His acting career has taken him to the small and big screen with participation in movies like Failure to Launch, Malcolm in the Middle, and he even co-hosted Fox NFL Sunday.
Like these, there are many more athletes, not only in Football but other sports that are transitioning or have transitioned over to the entertainment business. It is common to see a famous athlete either doing a cameo or for more serious actors, taking on roles in TV sitcoms, series and even movies.