Top 20 TV Appearances by Athletes

1 of 21

Best TV Appearances by Athletes

TV Appearances by Athletes
Getty Images

For whatever reason, many athletes believe they can act. That’s why several athletes can be seen in movies and on television shows. The producers believe that having an athlete on screen will improve the ratings, which will make them more money, even if the athlete is terrible at acting. For the most part, professional athletes can’t act, but then there are those rare moments when the sports star actually brings something to the show.

Two athletes in particular who can act are Shaquille O’Neal and Peyton Manning. The former basketball star and current MVP quarterback have that presence about them when they are on screen. They are incredibly confident, which is something that actors have to possess in order to be successful.

Shaq has been in several movies and television shows. In fact, he’s even hosted a couple of TV programs. There is no question he has a bright future in show business now that he is retired. Meanwhile, Manning will be in a very similar boat once he hangs up his cleats. Whether it is working on a pre-game show or actually appearing on a sitcom, Manning well have a great second career after football.

Even though athletes generally can’t act, it’s those moments when they can that are delightful. There is nothing better than watching a sports star excel in a role, even if it is a minor one. If you want to know about athletes who have had success on the small screen, make sure to check out the top 20 TV appearances by athletes in the ensuing slideshow.

2 of 21

20. Jim Harbaugh – Saved by the Bell

Jim Harbaugh TV
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This one goes way back to 1994. Then quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who played Screech’s cousin, shows up at school to teach the kids a lesson on how to be a good hero. Classic moment brought to you by “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.”

3 of 21

19. Jim Abbott – Boy Meets World

Jim Abbott TV
Getty Images

Baseball player Jim Abbott appears on an episode of “Boy Meets World” to give Cory Matthews advice on being a professional baseball player. Even though Cory wanted to give up on his dream, Abbott gave a necessary pep talk and even autographed some baseballs for the kids.

4 of 21

18. Mike Tyson – Entourage

Mike Tyson tv
Getty Images

It’s not the greatest moment of “Entourage” but it sure is funny to watch Ari Gold squirm with Mike Tyson in his office. Tyson explains how he wants the structure of a nine-to-five job in his life and needs more talking roles in movies. He even throws out the idea of playing Mike Brady in the new “The Brady Bunch.”

5 of 21

17. Lamar Odom – Entourage

Lamar Odom TV
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Another great moment from “Entourage” occurs in one of the earlier seasons. Drama is considering getting calf implants and can’t stop admiring the one’s Lamar Odom possess. It’s a rather standard role for Odom, while Drama’s ridiculousness makes it ridiculously funny.

6 of 21

16. Don Mattingly – The Simpsons

Don Mattingly TV
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

In 1992, Don Mattingly played himself on an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Mr. Burns requests the baseball player to get rid of his sideburns. Ironically, the episode was created several months prior to Mattingly’s run-in with George Steinbrenner about cutting his hair in accordance with team regulation.

7 of 21

15. Bill Buckner – Curb Your Enthusiasm

Bill Buckner TV
Getty Images

Bill Buckner appears on the hilarious show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in which he plays himself. Buckner gets criticized by complete strangers for is epic mishap of when he let the ball go between his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The fact that Buckner agreed to be a part of an episode that highlights the most embarrassing moment of his life is quite remarkable.

8 of 21

14. Mark Teixeira, Amare Stoudemire, Michael Strahan, Alex Rodriguez – Entourage

Mark Teixeira TV
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

One of the funnier moments from season eight of “Entourage” has Turtle trying to get more money from his investors for his Avion tequila company. The fact that Turtle is trying to pry an additional $250,000 from each of the New York athletes who he admires makes the scene that much better. Not to mention, Jerry Ferrara is a huge New York sports fan in real life, which means this scene must have been a dream come true.

9 of 21

13. Bubba Smith – Married with Children

Bubba Smith TV
Getty Images

Any scene with Al Bundy in it is always good for some laughs. “Married with Children” had its fair share of athletes appear on the program, but none was better than Bubba Smith playing “Spare Tire” Dixon. The slow-motion fight is legendary as Smith made the scene that much more funny.

10 of 21

12. Brian Urlacher – Entourage

Brian Urlacher TV
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

I know, I know, I’m obsessed with “Entourage,” but there are some really great moments with athletes on the show. Another one comes courtesy of linebacker Brian Urlacher, who does some shots of tequila with Turtle. The best part is Urlacher threatening Turtle not to lose his money in a possible Avion investment.

11 of 21

11. Joe Namath – The Simpsons

Joe Namath TV
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Namath has appeared on a couple episodes of “The Simpsons,” with the best coming when he talks to Bart about becoming a star quarterback. Namath’s car broke down, which is why he finds himself in the Simpsons’ backyard talking to Bart. Just when Namath is about to reveal the secret to become a great signal caller, his wife tells him she found the issue with the car. Of course, Namath walks away before he ever reveals the secret.

12 of 21

10. Peyton Manning – Saturday Night Live

Peyton Manning TV
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With approximately 35 athletes appearing on “Saturday Night Live,” it’s hard to choose just one to appear on the countdown. Then again, maybe it’s not. Manning was hilarious as host of the show a few years back, with his most hilarious sketch coming in the “United Way” digital short.

13 of 21

9. Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams – Seinfeld

Derek Jeter TV
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“Seinfeld” is hands down one of the greatest television shows ever created. There were plenty of great moments that involved athletes, with a young Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams being a prime example. The legendary George Costanza explains to two of the game’s biggest stars the physics of how to properly hit a home run. The last line of the scene is one of the funniest of the show.

14 of 21

8. Keith Hernandez – Seinfeld

Keith Hernandez TV
Getty Images

One of my personal favorite “Seinfeld” episodes is the two-part episode titled “The Boyfriend,” which involved baseball star Keith Hernandez. By far, the best part of the episode is the explanation of the magic loogie, which was reconstructed similarly to Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” a movie that was recently released at the time. All the members of the cast shine, including the great Newman.

15 of 21

7. Rick Fox – Oz

Rick Fox TV
Getty Images

HBO’s “Oz” is a daring show about a maximum-security prison. It certainly is not meant for the weak, as you must have a strong stomach to handle some of the graphic content. Regardless, it’s an impressive show filled with outstanding performances from the actors. One of those actors just so happened to be Rick Fox, who appeared in 11 episodes of the show. Fox has been in several movies and TV shows, but “Oz” just might be his finest effort.

16 of 21

6. Paul O’Neill – Seinfeld

Paul O’Neill TV
Getty Images

Another great “Seinfeld” episode involved baseball player Paul O’Neill. The episode really picks up speed when Kramer promises a young boy in the hospital that O’Neill will hit two home runs for him.

17 of 21

5. Bob Uecker – Mr. Belvedere

Bob Uecker TV
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The great Bob Uecker has appeared in many films and television programs. His most famous might just be his stint on “Mr. Belvedere” in which he played George Owens. Uecker was tremendous on the sitcom and always delivered big laughs.

18 of 21

4. Muggsy Bogues – Curb Your Enthusiasm

Muggsy Bogues TV
Getty Images

Larry David’s unbelievable talent spawned “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” with the latter putting him in a starring role. One of the better scenes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” involved former basketball great Muggsy Bogues. David and friend Richard Lewis meet Bogues in the bathroom. They are stunned by his presence as well as other things.

19 of 21

3. Tom Brady – Entourage

Tom Brady TV
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

My favorite “Entourage” episode is titled “Fore!” It involves the gang at a golf charity with quarterback Tom Brady and movie star Mark Wahlberg, who also happens to be the executive producer of the show. Brady does a great job on the episode as he plays a very real version of himself. The most unforgettable moment is when Drama breaks Brady’s driver out of his frustration.

20 of 21

2. Kevin McHale – Cheers

Kevin McHale TV
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin McHale was only supposed to have a one-time guest role on “Cheers.” However, he was so good that the cast wanted to keep writing jokes for him. McHale appeared in two episodes total and was one of the best guests the show ever had.

21 of 21

1. Shaquille O’Neal – Curb Your Enthusiasm

Shaquille O’Neal TV
Getty Images

My favorite “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode involves David tripped Shaq while he sat courtside for a Los Angeles Lakers game. The hilarious part is that David is a New York Knicks fan, which has everyone suspicious that he made Shaq trip on purpose.