Athletes tend to make terrible actors. Sure, there are a few who’ve managed to become legitimately successful in Hollywood—like Jason Lee, or Terry Crews—but they are the exceptions. For the most part, if you get paid to play sports but you also want to be in movies, you’re going to have to settle for athlete movie cameos.
That’s not as bad as it sounds, though. When judiciously deployed, athlete cameos can steal scenes, or even entire movies. And to prove it, I’ve put together this list of the 21 best athlete movie cameos…that I could think of…or find on the internet.
Are they literally the 21 best athlete movie cameos of all time? Probably not. But that’s a better title than “21 Athlete Movie Cameos That Mostly Pretty Good,” and I’m sticking with it. So stop worrying about the wording and just enjoy the list. It’s damn funny.
***Warning: NSFW language ahead***
You know what's so great about this Darius Miles cameo from Van Wilder, aside from the obvious fact that it's a DARIUS MILES CAMEO? How utterly terrible he is! The director probably had Darius say "those freak honeys from Mount Holyoke" at least 10 times, and the best one sounded like he was saying Mount Julio.
21. Darius Miles – Van Wilder (2002)
They actually tried giving Dale Jr a few more lines in Talladega Nights, but he's a terrible actor so they ended up on the cutting room floor. It was for the better, too. The cameo that actually made the film was pretty solid.
20. Dale Earnhardt Jr – Talladega Nights (2006)
Would this cameo be good enough to make the list if the great Dale Earnhardt Sr. was still with us today? Maybe not. Maybe this is just a sentimental pick.
Then again, he does run over a raccoon with a taxi cab, so...
19. Dale Earnhardt Sr – BASEketball (1998)
Yep, apparently Mark Wahlberg and his talking teddy bear try to deflate Tom Brady's balls in the upcoming Ted 2.
I wonder if Ted Wells will have anything to say about that.
18. Tom Brady – Ted 2 (2015)
I bet Rogers Clemens asked the director what to do for this scene and the director just said "be yourself, Roger."
17. Roger Clemens – Kingpin (1996)
In this Adam Sandler flick—which almost nobody saw—Rex Ryan finally revealed his true feelings about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
16. Rex Ryan – That’s My Boy (2012)
I don't know if this is my favorite scene from The Other Guys. But I guarantee you it's Mark Wahlberg's favorite. He's from Boston, after all. What Boston sports fan wouldn't relish the chance to shoot Derek Jeter?
15. Derek Jeter – The Other Guys (2010)
Obviously, when you think "cameo" and "Happy Gilmore," the first name that comes to mind is Bob Barker. But let's not forget Lee Trevino's perfect cameo. A few years ago Trevino actually said he never would have done the cameo if he'd known the movie would have so many bad words. Which is pretty adorable when you think about it, but also crazy. Our lives would be so much emptier without "Grizzly Adams DID have a beard."
14. Lee Trevino – Happy Gilmore (1996)
Like Steve Buschemi, Rob Schneider, Allen Covert, and David Spade, retired tennis great John McEnroe has been in more than one Adam Sandler movie.
Here we see his memorable turn in Mr. Deeds, but Johnny Mac was also in You Don't Mess with the Zohan and Jack and Jill—a movie which, incidentally, has a rating of 3.4 on IMDB.
13. John McEnroe – A Bunch of Adam Sandler Movies
Mr. October's cameo in BASEketball was pretty pointless. But then again, so was the rest of the movie.
Now, Reggie's other major cameo is a different story...
12. Reggie Jackson – BASEketball (1998)
The baseball scene in 1988's The Naked Gun is one of the funniest scenes in movie history, culminating with one of the greatest punchlines in movie history. ("Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo!") The fact that Reggie Jackson is also in it, playing the guy who's been hypnotized to assassinate the Queen of England? That's just icing on the cake.
11. Reggie Jackson – The Naked Gun (1988)
I wouldn't say This Is 40 was a bad movie so much as a depressing movie that was way too long, and which I regret having watched.
That said, there were two things I liked about it. One was the fact that Megan Fox was in it, and she was good. The other was the cameo by Ian Laperriere, Matt Carle, Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk, who at the time were all members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
10. The Philadelphia Flyers – This Is 40 (2012)
I don't know about you, but if I were a pro athlete, I would want nothing more from my movie cameo than to be murdered by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
9. Wilt Chamberlain – Conan the Destroyer (1984)
John Cenaactually has legit comedic acting skillz. To anyone who saw his Foot Locker commercial a little while back, this hilarious performance in the upcoming Trainwreck should come as no surprise.
8. John Cena – Trainwreck (2015)
LeBron James is also in Trainwreck, which is Judd Apatow's latest project. In fact, as you can clearly see, he's in at least two separate scenes, meaning his role is bordering on "supporting" rather than "cameo." And seeing as how I left Kareem Abdul-Jabbar off this list because he had too many lines in Airplane to call it a cameo, I might have to remove LeBron from this list after the movie comes out.
Dan Marino's cameo in Ace Ventura was so good, I can't pick between the "gum scene" and the "hemorrhoids" scene. So I'm including both. You're welcome!
5. Dan Marino – Ace Ventura (1994)
Who could possibly forget Cam Neely's legendary turn as Sea Bass in Dumb and Dumber?
Of course, the Farrelly Brothers put athlete cameos in pretty much all their movies, and quite often they use Boston sports legends, like Cam Neely here, or Roger Clemens in Kingpin.
That said, while the next guy on the list made his cameo in a Farrelly Brothers movie, he's most definitely not from Boston...
4. Cam Neely – Dumb and Dumber (1995)
Sadly, this is the best clip I could get from Brett Favre's surprising cameo in There's Something About Mary. But hey, you've seen the movie, right? There were hints about Mary's mysterious ex-boyfriend throughout the movie, but nobody expected it to be Brett...Fav...ruh.
3. Brett Favre – There’s Something About Mary (1998)
Okay, so this one is a little less funny now that we know Lance Armstrong was a lying cheater the entire time. But he did have cancer that cost him one of his balls, and the joke is still pretty perfect if you can remember how revered Armstrong was back in 2004.
2. Lance Armstrong – Dodgeball (2004)
Was there ever any doubt? Iron Mike's cameo in The Hangover is the Platonic Ideal of an athlete movie cameo—totally unexpected, totally bizarre, totally brilliant. Whoever came up with th idea that the Wolfpack would steal Mike Tyson's tiger is funny. Whoever came up with the idea that we would first meet Mike Tyson while he's rocking out to Phil Collins is a damn genius.