Very often in our day to day, boring lives, the celebrities/actors/actresses we stalk have the delusions of grandeur that they are world-class athletes because they played a role of an athlete ONCE in a movie (insert Tom Cruise “All The Right Moves” joke). But who are we to judge right?? Don’t we all secretly want to be a pro athlete? Or a movie star? Or a Kardasian? Ugh.
Vice-versa, pro athletes OFTEN think they’re celebrities/actors because they booked an Old Spice commercial that one time:
Our obsession as a society for athletes and celebrities only fuel the fire for the eventual worlds colliding, which would ultimately be the best and worst form of entertainment EVER. Can I get a sit-com featuring Shaq, Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman please?
Plot: The guys all play over-forty, rich, single bachelors living in an amazing loft apartment in New York City above coffee shop. Shaq is an architect, Barkley is a Cartoonist and Rodman is the wacky, never-gonna-grow-up actor!
Call it “Three Men & A Basketball”.
With that great pitch, I give you the official “Actors Who Used To Be Athletes” List (I’m sure there are more than this, but these were interesting):
- Dean Cain – Superman was a star football player at Princeton University where he played Free Safety. He set a NCAA national record for interceptions in a single season in 1987 (12 ints). Cain signed with the Buffalo Bills after college, but blew out his knee and his pro career was over quickly.
- Josh Duhamel – Before marrying Fergie and becoming a huge film star, Josh played quarterback at Minot State in small-town North Dakota, he also suited up for the basketball team for one season. Actual footage of Duhamel’s sports career was hard to find:
- Matthew Fox – Before he was a heart-throb on “Lost” he was a scholarship Wide Receiver for the University of Columbia. While at Columbia, Fox went 2-44 as a player, whoa……..that’s a rough couple years. Wait that means Dean Cain (Princeton ’88) played against, and probably guarded, Matthew Fox (Columbia ’88)! Dean Cain – 4, Matthew Fox – 0. For the life of me, I couldn’t find footage or photos to back up this theory.
- John Goodman – The star of “Roseanne” and one of my favorite character-actors in many great Coen Brothers movies attended and played football at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) in the early 70’s. His career ended after injury, he graduated school in 1975.
- Mark Harmon – Harmon was a starting QB at UCLA from 1972-73. He went 17-5 as a starting QB. He also played basketball on the Freshman team for John Wooden.
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Before he was an actor, he was a WWE wrestler, before he was a wrestler, he was a defensive lineman for the University of Miami. In fact, he was a member of the 1991 National Championship team.
- Tommy Lee Jones – Played Offensive Guard at Harvard University in the 60’s. He was an all-league player and part of an undefeated Crimson team in 1968.
- Joel McHale – Host of “The Soup” and co-star on “Community”, was a Tight End at Washington University from 1992-93. He was a walk-on and mostly a practice player/scout team athlete, Joel never actually saw the field for a real game.
- Nick Nolte – Before being kicked out of school for academic reason, Nolte was on scholarship for football at Arizona State University. He tried to keep playing football after his expulsion at several junior colleges but never made it back to a big school.
- Ed O’Neill – Al Bundy really played football in Ohio!!! He was a scholarship football player at The University of Ohio where he played defensive lineman. He eventually transferred and finished up his college career at Youngstown State. He tried out for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, but was cut.
- Burt Reynolds – Attended Florida State on a football scholarship in the 50’s waaaaaaay before he had his face melted off. He played halfback, but his career was cut short due to injuries.
- Phil Robertson – The reality TV star from “Duck Dynasty” hasn’t always been a bearded duck-call billionaire mogul. He was the starting QB for Louisiana Tech in the late 60’s. He was eventually replaced in the lineup by Terry Bradshaw, yes THAT Terry Bradshaw. Phil decided to forgo his senior season of eligibility to hunt for ducks instead of open wide receivers.
- John Wayne – OF COURSE John Wayne played football, are you kidding me!?!? His real name was Marion Morrison and he attended USC on a football scholarship back in the 1920’s. His scholarship and career ended after his second season due to injuries.
- James Caan – Said to have played football at Michigan State for one year before transferring back to New York and attending Hofstra University where he began his acting career. Finding any sort of footage or photos of him at Michigan State was basically impossible….so here’s Caan in “Brian’s Song”:
- Carl Weathers – Before Apollo Creed was in the ring with Rocky Balboa, he was playing linebacker at San Diego State University and then for the Oakland Raiders. Weathers played two seasons in Oakland, then played 3 seasons in the CFL for the B.C. Lions. He retired from football in 1974 and pursued acting full-time.
- Forest Whitaker – Whitaker played Defensive Tackle at Cal Poly Pomona, but his career was ended early due to back injuries. After that he changed majors and focused on music and acting.
- Suge Knight – Suge was a Defensive Tackle for the UNLV Rebels in the mid-80’s. After college he continued to try to play in the NFL, he was eventually cut by the Los Angeles Rams in 1986. BUT, during the players’ strike in 1987, Suge Knight was a replacement player for the Rams and played in 7 games before being cut again. Then he decided to concentrate on music producing and shooting people with guns.
- Bill Goldberg – “Goldberg” from the WCW wrestling world was a HUGE name in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. But before he was a pro wrestler and action movie star, he was a Defensive Tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs. He then played in the NFL, CFL and the WLAF (World League of American Football). After injuries and physical rehab, he got into martial arts training and power lifting. Eventually that lead to working out with pro wrestlers and the eventual career that made him a millionaire.
- Rob Brown – The actor who played Syracuse Running Back and Heisman Trophy Winner, Ernie Davis in “The Express” was actually a Wide Receiver at Amherst University while also acting in films such as “Coach Carter” and “Finding Forrester”.
- “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – “Stone Cold” was born and raised in the southern town of Edna, Texas. He played the sport EVERYONE in Texas plays: Football. He eventually received a scholarship to North Texas to play Full Back, needless to say, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was destined to knock people out. His football career ended after college, but his physical dominance and bashing skulls didn’t end there. He became a WWE and WWF star and eventually an action movie star as well.
- Robert Redford – That’s right, not only was he THE GUY back in the 70’s and 80’s, and really into the 90’s too. BUT he also was a damn good baseball player. He played baseball in high school at Van Nuys High with MLB Hall Of Famer, Don Drysdale, THEN he went to the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship. Although, Redford didn’t even make it one full year at CU-Boulder…..he was “asked to leave” before the end of his Freshman year. Who the hell knows what that means, I mean it was the early 50’s in Boulder, I can’t imagine what he must’ve been doing to get kicked out. While at school he also worked at a local restaurant called “The Sink” where a painting of him is still hanging today.