Let’s face it: the career of a professional athlete isn’t a very long one. Well, unless you’re playing golf. So many pro sportsmen look for other ways to make huge amounts of money once they can’t compete anymore.
A popular choice for athletes is acting – the hours are short, the pay is great and they still get to be famous. Unfortunately, most jocks aren’t the best thespians, and in this feature we’ll rank the 10 worst athletes turned actors.
“The Boz” was one of the quintessential 80s football players, with an absurd mullet and shaved stripes haircut and a loud mouth. He only played three seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, retiring after a shoulder injury in 1989, but he made quite an impression.
In 1991, Brian Bosworth was cast in "Stone Cold," an Alabama cop on the edge who infiltrates a biker gang that wants to assassinate the President. The movie was a huge flop both critically and commercially, with the Boz drawing savage reviews. He immediately retreated from the public eye for over a decade.
We have much love for Shaq – he’s one of the funniest people on Twitter and he genuinely seems to be a super-nice dude. But man, the legendary center sure can’t act. The 7’1” O’Neal made his screen debut in William Friedkin’s 1994 basketball drama "Blue Chips," but it was with 1996’s "Kazaam" that he really started to stink up theaters.
Probably the nadir of cinematic Shaq came in 1997 with "Steel," an incoherent, inept superhero flick that won him a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor. That didn’t slow him down, though, as he’s continued to do film roles including the upcoming "Grown Ups 2" opposite Adam Sandler.
Flamboyant basketball star Dennis Rodman’s larger-than-life personality would make him a natural fit for acting, you might think. But you’d think wrong, as Rodman’s screen performances have been unilaterally stinky. He made his debut in 1997’s "Double Team," directed by Hong Kong legend Tsui Hark.
Even sharing a screen with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rodman’s lack of acting chops were painfully apparent, and the flick took in barely a third of its budget. Rodman went on to star in Simon Sez with Dane Cook, which was even worse. Maybe he should have just stayed in North Korea.
Before he was a wax-faced mannequin vainly trying to keep up with the Kardashians, Bruce Jenner was America’s sweetheart for his performance at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, so it was only natural for him to go Hollywood.
In 1980, he was cast as a lawyer in "Can’t Stop The Music," a fictionalized biography of iconic gay band the Village People. The flick was released after the disco craze had come and gone, taking in barely 10% of its budget at the box office, and Jenner retired from acting until 2013’s Jack And Jill. Amazingly enough, of the two films that Jenner has appeared in, both won the Razzie for Worst Picture.
Another pro athlete with a big personality, T.O. would seem a natural for the silver screen. Unfortunately, when he’s not playing himself (which he has in several flicks), things get really bad. Owens got his dramatic debut in 2012’s "Dysfunctional Friends," an urban ensemble film with a huge cast. T.O. plays a pro basketball player this time, but everything he does on screen is insanely unconvincing.
One scene in a weight room even has him doing an arm curl wrong! On the positive side, he does have to deliver the line “Your ex is doing jaw exercises on my balls,” which would be a challenge even for an actor of the caliber of Daniel Day-Lewis.
NFL defensive end Howie Long knew that his time on the gridiron was up, so after retiring in 1993 he immediately started lining up acting gigs. Unfortunately for Howie, he’s not nearly as convincing on camera as he was on the football field.
Probably the nadir of Long’s acting career was his starring role in 1998’s "Firestorm," where he plays a smokejumper who needs to stop a gang of escaped convicts from finding hidden loot in the forest. The flick got dismal ratings, with Long’s performance receiving most of the mockery. He wisely chose to focus on his career as an on-air football analyst after that.
It’s hard to talk smack about a man who claims to have slept with more than 20,000 women, but Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain should never have stepped off the court and in front of the camera.
The Lakers legend is one of the best centers the game has ever seen, but when he was cast in 1984’s "Conan The Destroyer" as the warrior Bombaata the world quickly realized that he wasn’t ready for prime time. The first Conan film is legendary. The second is better forgotten, and Wilt never pursued acting seriously again after it.
Roy Jones Jr
I wouldn’t put boxers on the big screen were I a Hollywood director – multiple punches to the head aren’t particularly good for the memory. But for some reason storied boxer Roy Jones Jr, the only man to start out as a lightweight and win the heavyweight title, was given a role in the second "Matrix" film.
Jones was obviously completely out of his depth in the Wachowski brothers’ sci-fi universe, and all of his line readings are utterly painful. He went on to star in one of the million "Universal Soldier" sequels just to put a cherry on top of the sundae.
We would never tell Lyle Alzado to his face that he wasn’t a good thespian, but the intimidating defensive end who brought the Raiders to a Super Bowl win in 1983 sure didn’t take many acting classes.
Alzado appeared in cameo roles in several films, but the flick that got him a berth on this list was 1988’s "Destroyer," where he played the title role of a serial killer who escapes death in the electric chair to terrorize a film crew. It’s painful to watch, and not in a good way. Alzado’s short-lived sitcom Learning The Ropes wasn’t much better.
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The long-time Dodger known as “Mr. Clean” rode his All-American image to an almost two-decade career in baseball, but Steve Garvey’s success in Hollywood was a little less impressive.
After stepping off the diamond (and seeing his political career dashed by a particularly ludicrous sex scandal), Garvey took tiny parts like an uncredited role on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." His only theatrical role came in 1995’s "Ice Cream Man," an ultra-cheap thriller starring Clint Howard as a homicidal frozen dessert vendor. Amazingly, Garvey’s acting was bad even by those standards.