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Top 20 Athlete Movie Appearances

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Top 20 Athlete Movie Appearances

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Valerie Macon - Getty Images

We most commonly know athletes for what they accomplish on the field. However, many achieve a lot on screen as well. As highly desirable celebrities, athletes are sought after for movie roles all the time. When an athlete takes a role and goes with it, sometimes the results, good or bad, can be Hollywood gold.

What is impressive about film achievement by athletes is that it isn't their primary profession. The ones that are good show how multi-talented athletes can really be. It also shows how much more money they can make beyond their paychecks for playing.

It can be fascinating to watch athletes as actors in a movie. Sometimes it's almost as if they're doubling as themselves. Knowing they're athletes, yet watching them as actors can automatically elevate the entertainment value of a given performance

Athletes from all sorts of sports have taken to the big screen to show off their talent. Baseball, basketball, football, boxing, wrestling, bodybuilding; pretty much everyone is represented. Beyond what they've already won in their respective sports, these athletes-turned-actors deserve a little hardware for their performances.

How lasting a movie or role is goes a long way toward determining a great acting performance by an athlete. Ultimately, the ones we remember the most vividly are going to be the ones we remember most fondly. That's the case for the following 20 movies and roles played by athletes. In a variety of roles, they've made us laugh, cry and just simply kept us entertained.

Jacob Kornhauser is a writer for RantSports.com. "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or add him to your Google+ network.

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20. Shaquille O'Neal - Kazaam

Shaq
Tyler Kaufman - Getty Images

Well, to be honest, this movie was awful. It made the list because it's one of those movies that's so horrible, it's actually kind of entertaining. It got a 2.7 out of 10 on IMDB and probably isn't something worth watching unless you're looking for a laugh.

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19. Dan Marino - Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Dan
Justin K. Aller - Getty Images

He plays himself in the popular movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and finds himself in the middle of the action. While he doesn't play a key role, the movie as a whole is solid and he doesn't do anything to take away from it, so good job all around.

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18. Mike Tyson - The Hangover

Mike
Theo Wargo - Getty Images

In one of the funnier movies of the past couple years, Tyson plays himself in The Hangover. He loses a tiger, among other things, during the film and talks with several main characters as the plot thickens. Part of the reason this is such a memorable performance is because the scenes he's involved in are some of the funniest in the film.

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17. Jim Brown - 100 Rifles

Jim
Alberto E. Rodriguez - Getty Images

One of his lesser known films, the great running back plays a lead in this 1969 western. His acting, directing and producing career has actually gone on to be pretty impressive since this movie came out. Not bad for one of the best players in NFL history.

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16. Lance Armstrong - Dodgeball

Lance
Matthew Stockman - Getty Images

While Armstrong hasn't been able to dodge released positive drug tests as of late, he was able to entertain in Dodgeball, which has really become one of the best comedies in the past 10 years. His single scene is when he's talking to Peter LeFleur (played by Vince Vaughn) and telling him that despite all of his personal problems (testicular cancer etc.) he can understand why he quit the dodgeball team. It's so tongue-in-cheek and it's brilliant.

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15. Lou Ferrigno - The Incredible Hulk

Hulk
Rick Diamond - Getty Images

Was there ever any doubt that Ferrigno would play the Hulk at some point in his life? Forget CGI and other computer image rendering devices, just paint the former body builder green and you can see the resemblance. Of course, the acting isn't great, but the movie is pretty solid and Ferrigno fits perfectly into the role.

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14. Terry Bradshaw - Failure To Launch

Bradshaw
Brad Barket - Getty Images

He doesn't have an illustrious acting career, but he is featured in a comical scene in the movie Failure to Launch. Watching his key scene in the movie isn't for the faint of heart, however. Spoiler alert: his bare butt may or may not become exposed at some point.

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13. Roger Clemens - Kingpin

Kingpin
Erika Goldring - Getty Images

Playing a very minor character in this quirky bowling comedy, Clemens makes the most of his air time. It's apparent he doesn't have much acting experience, but that almost makes the performance that much funnier.

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12. Carl Weathers - Rocky

Rocky
Amy Sussman - Getty Images

A former professional football player, Weathers has carved out a nice acting career for himself. That essentially started when he played the role of Apollo in the first Rocky movie. That movie was one of the most iconic in history and so was his role. It launched him into a successful second career.

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11. Dwayne Johnson - Gridiron Gang

Gang
Taylor Hill - Getty Images

It's not a movie that's talked about a lot, but Gridiron Gang is powerful in a number of ways. "The Rock"'s performance in the movie is moving. Unlike his other roles, he plays a very emotionally dynamic character in this film. He is the head football coach of a prison football team, especially for young players that are at risk of doing hard time if they get one more strike. It is a truly underrated sports movie and his performance is underrated as well.

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10. O.J. Simpson - The Naked Gun

The
Pool - Getty Images

As detective Nordberg (ironic, huh?), Simpson is a funny, yet serious character. The character is meant to be played in a somewhat serious way, but the lack of acting that Simpson has make it comical. That's not necessarily a bad thing as it raised the entertainment value of the performance.

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9. Mike Ditka - Kicking and Screaming

Mike
Maddie Meyer - Getty Images

It's a mildly funny comedy, but teaming up with comedy wizard Will Ferrell, Mike Ditka delivers a hilarious performance in this film. As neighbors of Ferrell's character's dad, Ditka helps Ferrell coach a youth soccer team. Throughout the movie, they get into various shenanigans and the way that "Da Coach" deals with them leaves you kicking and screaming sometimes ... with laughter of course.

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8. Derek Jeter - The Other Guys

The
Elsa - Getty Images

Of all the athletes on this list, Jeter probably got the least screen time. However, in his few short seconds in The Other Guys, he sets up a great one-liner. In the film, Terry Holtz (played by Mark Wahlberg) gets halted in his advancement through the ranks of law enforcement because he accidentally shot Jeter at a Yankee game while working security. The priceless moment comes when the other officers are giving him a hard time and one goes, "You should've shot A-Rod!".

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7. Andre The Giant - The Princess Bride

The
Jim Rogash - Getty Images

Unfortunately, Andre The Giant died shortly after his memorable role in The Princess Bride. That doesn't take away from his performance in the classic film though. He is a bad guy at various times and a good guy in others, but what makes his performance the most memorable is the question that he would continually ask: anybody want a peanut?

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6. Ray Allen - He Got Game

He
Isaac Baldizon - Getty Images

Playing Jesus Shuttlesworth, Allen is perfect in this role. It may help that he actually does have game, but that doesn't take away from the performance at all. Co-starring with Denzel Washington, Allen performed well enough a respectable 6.9 out of 10 on IMDB. Unfortunately, this role set him up for his current nickname in Boston: "Judas Shuttlesworth".

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5. Lawrence Taylor - Any Given Sunday

Any
Kirby Lee - Getty Images

This movie had a star-studded cast and Taylor was no exception. Playing Luther "Shark" Lavay, he brings the intensity to the movie that he always brought to the actual gridiron. Nobody, including Taylor, pulled any punches in this movie and that's what made it so moving by the end.

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4. Arnold Schwarzenegger - The Terminator

The
Daniel Liebl - Getty Images

Schwarzenegger isn't thought of as an athlete in the traditional sense, but he did become famous for bodybuilding many moons ago. He used that to springboard his acting career, which culminated with the iconic Terminator series. He has since served as governor for California and actually returned to the big screen. Once again, he's proving that he "will be back".

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3. Bob Uecker - Major League

Bob
Christian Petersen - Getty Images

Uecker is really one of the most iconic personalities in baseball history. In fact, he's one of the most iconic personalities in sports history. For that reason, him being a broadcaster is good enough to consider him an athlete in my book. His performance as an announcer for the lowly Cleveland Indians in the classic movie Major League is entertaining in so many ways. It has spurred on a cult following with just a few words, "Juuuuust a bit outside!".

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2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Airplane!

Kareem
Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

The revolutionary comedy Airplane! was one of the first dry comedies of its time. Playing a co-pilot of said "airplane" in the film, the NBA's all-time leading scorer didn't disappoint. He's very entertaining throughout the movie and he manages to make you forget that he's not originally an actor.

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1. Michael Jordan - Space Jam

Mike
Kent Smith - NBA via Getty Images

There are a couple reasons that MJ had to be No. 1. First of all, he doesn't lose. Second of all, how many times have we ever seen a player in any sport that was at the prime of their careers when they were featured in a popular movie? The answer is likely zero. Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time and he was featured in this movie while he was still in his prime. Corny or not, the movie is still good and for pure historical value, it's second to none when it comes to athlete appearances in movies.