Many NFL players make their mark on TV by showcasing their skills on the field. While this is the case for most, some football players expand their TV appearances into movies and other shows. In fact, over the years, we’ve seen plenty of athletes who turned into actors. Given that they aren’t afraid of the bright lights, the transition to acting has been smooth for a handful of sportsmen. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NFL players who also became actors.
Some NFL fans may recognize Carl Weathers, who suited up for the Oakland Raiders during the 1970-1971 season. While his NFL stint wasn’t all too memorable, Weathers still rose to fame with his acting chops. His most memorable films include Rocky, Predator, and Happy Gilmore. Weathers also appeared in the TV show, The Mandalorian, where he earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor.
A former Detroit Lions player, Alex Karras had a respectable NFL career that saw him make four Pro Bowl appearances and nine All-Pro selections. But after hanging up his football cleats, Karras would make a career out of acting. He featured in several works including Against All Odds, Maid in America, Porky’s, Nobody’s Perfekt, and many more.
During his playing years, Jim Brown made his mark with the Cleveland Browns as one of the greatest NFL players ever. But after retiring, the three-time NFL MVP would become a fixture in the cinemas. Brown portrayed several movie roles and appeared in notable films such as The Running Man, The Dirty Dozen, Mars Attacks!, Any Given Sunday, and many more.
Chester Rogers suited up for the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and Cleveland Browns in the NFL. Although NFL fans may know him as Chester Rogers, he goes by the stage name of Tre Rogers. On the big screens, he appeared in films such as Constellation, Dirty, and Madea’s Family Reunion. In 2023, Rogers made Sterling Black come to life in the crime drama BMF.
Before Terry Crews rose to acting prominence, he had stopovers in the NFL which saw him suit up for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and the Washington Redskins. Although his NFL career never took off, Crews’ comedic roles have been memorable. His notable credits include TV series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Everybody Hates Chris. Crews also stole the show in minor roles in the big screens including Blended, The Expendables, Deadpool 2, and many more.
Bubba Smith carved out a solid nine-year career in the NFL. He made two Pro Bowl appearances, three All-Pro selections, and won two championships. Although Smith collected awards in the NFL, his acting career was just as decorated with 56 credits to his name. Smith is well-known for his role as Hightower in Police Academy.
Speaking of great NFL players, Terry Bradshaw is certainly one of them. The Hall of Famer has four Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl MVPs, and an MVP to his name. But aside from football accolades, Bradshaw’s popularity in football also poured over into acting as he garnered several minor roles. Bradshaw appeared as himself in several TV series including Scooby-doo and Guess Who?, Last Man Standing, The Simpsons, The League, Kristin, and many more.
Back in the early 90s, Bill Goldberg used to ply his trade with the Atlanta Falcons. After an unsuccessful NFL career, Goldberg would go on to carve out a decorated career in WWE. But aside from wrestling Goldberg also appeared in the big screens including Santa’s Slay, The Longest Yard, American Satan, Fury of the Fist and the Golden Fleece, and many more. He also appeared in TV shows such as NCIS: Los Angeles, The Flash, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
John Matuszak was once the top overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. In 10 years, Matuszak won two Super Bowl titles with the Raiders. Although Matuszak never really lived up to the expectations in football, he tried his hand at acting and carved out some notable roles. Matuszak appeared on the big screens and was credited for films such as The Goonies, North Dallas Forty, One Crazy Summer, Ghost Writer, and Down the Drain.
Tony Gonzalez carved out a lengthy 17-year Hall of Fame worthy career in the NFL. After making 14 Pro Bowl appearances, 10 All-Pro selections, and leading the NFL in receptions, Gonzalez has dived into Hollywood. In 2017, Gonzalez made his big screen debut in action film xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Here, he kept in step with seasoned stars such as Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, and Nina Dobrev. Aside from making the big screens, Gonzalez was also credited for his roles in NCIS, A.I. Assault, Long Slow Exhale, and Fantasy Football.