Who gets the award for best athlete-turned-actor?

Avery_lWas watching a little late-night TV over the weekend, and stumbled across There’s Something About Mary, in which Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre shows up to do his doughy best as Mary’s ex-boyfriend. Given that he is not only better looking but also a better QB these days, perhaps that’s one cameo best left semi-forgotten somewhere on a shelf alongside Shaquille O’Neal in Kazaam and the entire cinematic career of O.J. Simpson.

But the athletes just keep acting, as evidenced by New York Ranger (and former Elisha Cuthbert flame) Sean Avery (pictured) who shows up in the hockey biopic The Rocket (just out on DVD) as–coincidence!–a New York Ranger named Bob Dill who gets the crap beaten out of him by the movie’s subject, legendary Montreal Canadien Maurice Richard. The movie’s half in French and half in English and all about hockey, yet I kept watching; Avery’s role, while small, is damn entertaining. Probably because he’s known as quite the aggressor in real life, and there’s always something fun about watching people like that get clocked, even if it’s fake–and especially when they’re in on the joke.

Assuming it’s not Avery, what athlete has given the best onscreen performance in Hollywood history? Johnny Damon in Fever Pitch? Michael Jordan in Space Jam? Ring in with your comments! Let’s force EW.com’s editors to spin a gallery from your numerous (and witty) responses!

Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • BijouxIce

    Rick Fox, former Laker and ex-Mr. Vanessa Williams. I loved him on both “Dirt” and “Ugly Betty”!

  • Katy

    I’ve always thought of Joe Montana as a natural comedian. His performance as host of SNL is high up on my list of best ever.

  • EP Sato

    Sam J Jones because he was the MAN as Flash Gordon. He was a minor league football player before he became “Flash Gordon, Quarterback, New York Jets”, before he was on the now forgotten HBO series “1st and 10″, before he was the Highwayman, and before his recent comeback with “Revamped” and the rehashed Flash Gordon tv series.

  • step

    Gary Stevens as George Woolf in Seabiscuit. No joke! He held his own against Tobey and Chris Cooper, plus he actually rode the horse well, which I’m sure is more than Tobey can say.

  • JJ

    Terry Bradshaw! Definitely not the best actor, but certainly amiable and enjoyable! Cannonball Run being my favorite!

  • Tony

    Before he went bonkers and killed people, O.J. Simpson was carving out a second career as an actor. Jim Brown was in some pretty good movies too (The Dirty Dozen, anybody?)

  • Zod

    Cam Neely in Dumb & Dumber. He nailed the part of Sea Bass.

  • Chaddogg

    Gotta go with Vinnie Jones. Former soccer player (or is it rugby) in England known for his rough play (there’s a famous picture of him, uh, twisting an opponent’s nether region), he’s now Hollywood’s go-to-British-thug, in movies like Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Gone in 60 Seconds, and X-Men 3 (as Juggernaut).

  • D

    Dennis Rodman, hands down. His gripping performance in “Double Team” opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme is one for the ages.

  • tia

    My vote goes to Dean Cain, although his athletic career was mostly in college. I loved him on Lois and Clark and wish that we could see him in more than just cameos here and there.
    Honorable mentions go to Johnny Weissmuller, the best Tarzan. As well as Arnold Schwartznegger for True Lies, still one of my favorite action movies of all time.

  • ChrisChicago

    Dan Marino in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The scene with the gun where he and Ace are arguing over who should get shot is classic!

  • Shawn

    Despite our answers, I think we can all agree that Sean Avery is an incredibly annoying hockey player.

  • pop_princess

    Jason Lee, hands down…skaters are athletes, too!

  • Anonymous

    What about Scott Patterson (Luke on Gilmore Girls)? He had a pretty significant minor league baseball career before turning that baseball hat around as everyone’s favorite Stars Hallow diner owner.

  • Abby

    Do commercials count? Because ubiquitous though he is, Peyton Manning is an absolute MASTER of comic timing!
    His SNL was genius too.

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