NFL Players Who Became Successful Actors

Houston Texans v Las Vegas Raiders
Houston Texans v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

It's quite common to see entertainers switch to acting after building their careers as models, singers, or hosts. Some actors, however, come from worlds entirely opposite to the entertainment industry; in this case, it's from the professional football sphere. We know the combination looks mismatched, but everything is achievable as long as one is dedicated to their craft. In fact, stories like these inspire people to follow their passion and not shy away from making unconventional career choices. Let's look at three such gifted football players who effortlessly transitioned into acting and launched a second successful career with memorable roles.

Bubba Smith

Even though it has been more than a decade since Bubba Smith's passing, fans can't forget what a prolific entertainer he was both on-field and on-screen. Smith, a two-time All-American, debuted with Baltimore Colts as the first overall in the 1967 NFL draft. Playing at the Colts' defensive end, the talented player had two Pro Bowl Selections and was a champion in one of his two Super Bowl appearances. 

 Nine years later, he retired from NFL and kickstarted his second career. Beginning with television commercials, Smith smoothly established himself as a comic actor. Among his performances, the star is fondly remembered as the soft-spoken giant Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movie series.

Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers was a smart man. While acting was always his passion, he got into football as a backup plan. Weathers started his short-lived professional career with Oakland Raiders in 1970, and with just eight games in four years, his NFL era ended in 1974. By this time, he had already appeared as an extra in several projects, and it wasn’t too long before he had the breakthrough he was dreaming of. 

 In 1976, the former footballer shot into stardom with the role of Apollo Creed in the blockbuster sports film Rocky. Weathers reprised the character in its next three installments and had notable roles in several other films with a career spanning over five decades. 

 Terry Crews

Growing up, Terry Crews developed an interest in arts and athletics, eventually landing scholarships for both. He decided to go for football and got selected by Los Angeles Rams in the 1991 NFL Draft. Switching through different teams, the player participated in 32 games as a linebacker and defensive end before quitting NFL in 1997. 

Following his artistic ambitions, Crews joined the film industry, landing his first acting gig in 1999. He is now best known for his portrayal of Terry Crews, the gentle-giant supervisor in the critically acclaimed show Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Along with essaying several other comic roles, the multi-talented star has also hosted popular reality shows.