Top 20 Worst Athlete Acting Performances of All Time

One popular way that filmmakers like to bait consumers into theatres is with cameos. Among the most popular cameos are those by professional athletes. While such performances may add to the box office

One popular way that filmmakers like to bait consumers into theatres is with cameos. Among the most popular cameos are those by professional athletes. While such performances may add to the box office value of a movie, they rarely translate into career transitions for athletes. There is no need to sugar coat anything, plenty of athletes can’t act their way out of a wet paper bag. Still however, films keep being made which include athletes either as main characters or simply on screen for a few seconds.

Some may argue that all athlete movie appearances are bad but this is simply not true. Some of the most memorable movie moments of all time came from athletes. Lee Trevino said very little in the Adam Sandler classic Happy Gilmore. “Grizzly Adams did have a beard.” Continuing with comedies, remember Sea Bass from Dumb and Dumber? That was none other than NHL tough guy Cam Neely. “Kick his @$$, Sea Bass!” is still memorable to this day. Neely went on to participate in other television and movie projects before becoming the President of the Boston Bruins.

Among other respectable acting performances include Vinnie Jones, the meanest man ever to play soccer (football, sorry to those not from North America). Jones has convincingly played some of the meanest men on film from Big Chris in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to his leading role in The Midnight Meat Train (just as disturbing as it sounds). College football player and WWE superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has had a great acting career but other wrestlers have not achieved such success. From the world of mixed martial arts, Randy Couture has demonstrated decent acting ability in The Expendables movies and "Rowdy" Ronda was spot on in the third installment of that series.

Despite all the passable performances, there is still a multitude of terrible cameos by athletes. This list will count down twenty of the worst. If I insult one of your favorite athletes and you think they deserve an Oscar, I welcome ridicule and hatred in the almighty comments section.

20 OJ Simpson


In reality, Juice is possibly one of the best actors in human history. Even to this day, he is pretending to be an innocent man. Unfortunately, put the gent in front of a camera, and the charisma is still there but there just isn't any natural talent.

The movies themselves weren't the worst things ever made but Simpson's acting is not believable (not to be read "unbelievable") and with The Towering Inferno and his various short-lived television ventures as proof, OJ Simpson is the first entry on this list.

19 Lawrence Taylor


LT played himself in a brief cameo in the Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy during which he introduced Bobby Boucher (Sandler) and advised the children at his football camp not to smoke crack, in response to Boucher's studder and social awkwardness. It's still one of the most memorable lines of the movie. The rest of his acting career included a part in Any Given Sunday when he played himself, but somehow managed to do so poorly. But in such an unforgettable movie with so many solid performances, it would be tough to stand out.

18 Terrell Owens


Much like OJ Simpson, when TO is put in front of the camera, there is no acting ability, but the charisma stick around. He too was in Any Given Sunday and has had a significant television career since his retirement. He had his own reality show "The T.O. Show" for three years, but the show itself was just self indulgent garbage.

He's been on quite a few other shows, but his only passable acting performance was on Dr. Phil, during which he acted like a man who was pretending to be a caring father.

17 Stone Cold Steve Austin


Stone Cold, who is among the most entertaining men to ever hurl himself around a WWE ring, also earns a spot on this list for his performance in The Condemned. The movie itself details a group of violent convicts who are put on an abandoned island to fight to the death on camera. It sounds brilliant. Unfortunately, Stone Cold's acting was pretty rough. In fact, if you could get he and Kristen Stewart on screen together in a film, the furniture would probably show more emotion than either of them.

16 Brett Favre


Brett Favre may be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but on screen, he really isn't anything special. He did a great job for a long time of acting like a guy who thought he could come out of retirement. During his cameo in There's Something About Mary, he probably conveyed less real emotion than he did when sending those "junk pics."

I feel bad even writing this stuff, Favre is probably my favorite football player of all time.

15 Roger Clemens


It should be pointed out at this point that Roger Clemens actually has one of the funniest celebrity cameos on The Simpsons. In the episode "Homer at the Bat" the team gets hypnotized but Clemens remained that way for the entire episode. He acted like a chicken during that time, and the Rocket himself did all of the clucking.

His cameos in Spin City and his appearances on Saturday Night Live were not nearly that entertaining however.

14 Tito Ortiz


Much like many of the men on this list, Tito Ortiz has a memorable acting performance. For many years he and ex-wife Jenna Jameson acted like happy couple. During this period, the two made a movie together called Zombie Strippers, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was a poorly executed brilliant idea, but ultimately proved that Ortiz (who played a bouncer) can't play a guy who pushes people around for a living.

Right now I deserve an acting medal, because by writing this, I'm acting like a guy who doesn't think Tito could throw me through a wall for making fun of him. Sorry dude, nothing personal, OK: one free shot.

13 Hulk Hogan


When he acts like himself, Hogan is one of the best entertainers of all time. Unfortunately, when he acts like anything else, it's confusing and more than a little bit upsetting. No Holds Barred and Mr. Nanny should never have happened. How a professional wrestler can fail at playing a wrestler is...really a feat.

12 LeBron James


He hosted Saturday Night Live and the ESPY Awards with Jimmy Kimmel. While there have been worse hosts, LeBron looked confused most of the time during his SNL performance.

His performance on Entourage left something to be desired. That something was a shotgun in my hand so that I could shoot my TV. He has signed on to act in Judd Apatow's upcoming film Trainwreck. Pardon me folks, I'm not sure if that is a prediction or the actual title of a film.

11 John McEnroe


Just because something is funny, that does not make it good. John McEnroe exhibited during his tennis career, some of the best tantrum/meltdowns in the history of sport. Commercials and sitcoms have had a field day with these hissy-fits for years. While his on-court rampages were awesome, and gave even non tennis fans a reason to watch, they are just cannot be duplicated for show business.

10 John Cena


John Cena's acting career has included some entertaining movies, but he is simply not a good actor. The Marine and 12 Rounds were not terrible movies, but Cena's confidence in the WWE ring does not carry over well to the big screen. He always plays a musclebound everyman trying to save someone but ultimately, his acting takes away from the overall value of the film.

I feel terrible saying this however, because while I may not be a fan of Cena's acting, he has spent so much of his OWN time working for Make a Wish Foundation that he could probably blow up three apartment buildings and still get a pass into heaven.

9 Dennis Rodman


Rodman may well be one of the more entertaining NBA players of all time, but his acting career was so bad, it was entertaining. He starred in a couple of film attempts, but all were questionable at best. He and Jean-Claude Van Damme co-starred in Double Team which is quite possibly the worst buddy-cop, comedy, action attempt the film industry has ever seen. With that said, he married Carmen Electra and we can all act like we don't care, but being married to her for roughly six months is impressive.

8 Tom Brady


I was pretty impressed by his voice acting on both The Simpsons and Family Guy, but when he was on Entourage playing himself, fans were reminded that being able to speak and being able to use body language are two different things. Brady is a talented guy and does have some memorable lines (most recently "I'll retire when I suck"), but he probably should stick to acting that does not involve a camera.

7 Roosevelt Grier


Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier was a defensive tackle who played seven seasons for the New York Giants and four seasons for the Los Angeles Rams between 1955 and 1966. He made the Pro Bowl twice and is the last surviving member of the Rams' "fearsome foursome."

Following his football career, Grier was a bodyguard for Senator Robert Kennedy (until he was assassinated) and later transitioned into acting. While he had some performances that were actually quite good, The Thing with Two Heads didn't involve a single passable performance or a plot that even remotely made sense. Sometimes it's not an actor's fault that a project is atrocious.

6 Wilt Chamberlain


We really can't say a bad thing about Wilt Chamberlain's NBA career, as he has multiple records that are still in place today like scoring 100 points in a game, having a season average of over 60 points per game, and so on. But his acting chops left something to be desired.

In the Arnold Schwarzenegger "classic" Conan the Destroyer, he played Bombaata, who essentially betrayed the title character and then payed the price. He definitely gets an "A" for effort, but this was an Arnold movie where Arnold actually looked good in comparison to one of the villains.

5 Brian Bosworth


Bosworth is widely believed to be one of the biggest draft busts of all time. He was taken in the first round of the 1987 NFL draft and played just two years in the league before retiring. The Seattle Seahawks' doctor commented on the state of his shoulder and back and essentially indicated during the 1989 season that Bosworth was not fit to continue playing football. Even when he did take the field, his performance was subpar for a first round pick.

After his NFL career he took up acting, but his first performance in Stone Cold involved about as much theatrical skill as a boulder. He has continued to act since, but has mostly had parts in low-budget projects. He did have roles in Adam Sandler's remake of The Longest Yard and in the Gulf War thriller Three Kings but the parts were very small.

4 Howie Long


Howie Long is an interesting case. He is a Hall of Fame defensive end, having been selected to eight Pro Bowls during his fantastic career with the Raiders. In the show business world, he is known among film buffs for the "Howie Scream." His iconic shriek from the John Woo film Broken Arrow is terrifying but unfortunately, also stands as probably his only decent moment in acting. Hilariously, it wasn't even him making the sound, it was just a sound effect scream.

His performances in Firestorm, 3000 Miles to Graceland and his overall performance in Broken Arrow were all, just bad. While his acting career was lackluster, he is very competent as an NFL analyst for Fox.

3 Shaquille O'Neal


Spanning a twenty season career, Shaquille O'neal is one of the most decorated basketball players of all time, with too many accolades to name. On top of that, he has had ventures off the court that have been successful. He was a rapper for almost a decade and what he lacked in skill, he made up for in hype, selling plenty of records. He also has a Doctor of Education degree and has been involved in law enforcement organisations.

Unfortunately, acting just isn't his thing. Blue Chips wasn't an absolute disaster, but Kazaam was. I'd say watch it for proof, but don't even do that, just take our word for it.  

2 Joe Flacco


After his Super Bowl victory in 2013, many people jumped on the "Joe Flacco" is an elite quarterback" bandwagon. He had a great game, no doubt, and he is probably among the top fifteen in the league today. Unfortunately, the knee jerk reaction was insane at the time. He "acted" in a commercial in August 2013 for first Mariner Bank, during which he had to say one line and two words. His "performance" was so bad, it has to be second on this list.

To be fair, the commercial was poorly made to begin with, but not being able to deliver a sentence plus two words is a terrible acting resume.

1 Wayne Gretzky


He may be the best hockey player of all time, but acting is something he was never meant to attempt. Back in 1989, The Great One hosted Saturday Night Live and while he definitely gave it a great effort, he delivered his lines with the acting skill of a sloth on Valium.

While the sketch "Anal Retentive Fishing" with Eugene Levy was pretty funny, it proved to the world that being unbelievable on the ice did not make someone believable on screen.

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Top 20 Worst Athlete Acting Performances of All Time