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Eddie George and 6 Other Former NFL Players Who Became Actors

Eddie George, Shakespeare
Nashville Shakespeare Festival / Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

Former Tennessee Titans running back used to thrill audiences with long runs and evasive moves. Now, he’s hoping to win over new audiences with his…acting.

George will star in the title role of Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s production of ‘Julius Caesar’ this month. With the play, George joins a rich history of former football players who’ve gone on to theatrical stardom.

Who can forget the bit roles that Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Lawrence Taylor, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Romanowski, and even Mike Ditka have taken on in recent years in various projects? But George is taking centerstage in a bigger way. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite NFLers who’ve dreamed of stardom as an actor:

Eddie George

Before joining the Titans, George was a Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State who is in the College Football Hall of Fame. As a pro, he racked up 10,441 yards, and was a four-time Pro Bowler. Here’s a promo for ‘Julius Caesar’:

Carl Weathers

Probably best known for his role as Apollo Creed in the ‘Rocky’ franchise, Weathers, who also starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Predator,’ had a brief stint in the NFL in 1970-71 with the Oakland Raiders before retiring from the game. It was probably for the best, though, since he’s much more well-known as an actor than he ever was as a player.

Here he is in ‘Predator’:

Bubba Smith

Everyone knows the late Smith for his role as Hightower in the ‘Police Academy’ series of movies, but younger viewers might not know that Smith was first a feared defensive end in the ’60s and ’70s. While playing at Michigan State, Smith was regaled with the chant of “Kill, Bubba, Kill.” He was a two-time All-American, and a fan favorite.

See Smith in an iconic scene from ‘Policy Academy 2′:

http://youtu.be/3F57JSA7ZKs

 

O.J. Simpson

“The Juice,” as he was known during his playing days, Simpson was a six-time Pro Bowler and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of the best running backs of his era, posting a remarkable 11,236 yards in his career. Later on, he was featured in dozens of TV shows and movies, with his largest role coming as Detective Nordberg in ‘The Naked Gun’ franchise. But he’s perhaps best remembered for the trial for the murder of his late wife.

Here’s a scene from ‘The Naked Gun’:

Jim Brown

What couldn’t this man do? He’s a member of both the Football Hall of Fame and the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which just about says it all. Already accepted as one of the greatest athletes ever to lace up his cleats — he finished with 12,312 yards and 106 rushing touchdowns — Brown ventured into acting, too.

Here he is on ‘The Flip Wilson Show’:

Alex Karras

The Lions defensive tackle played over a decade in the NFL, becoming a four-time Pro Bowler and appointed to the 1960s All-Decade team. However, he had bigger dreams in mind. He went on to star on the popular sitcom, ‘Webster,’ and played a starring tole in Mel Brooks’ 1974 satire, ‘Blazing Saddles.’

See Karras in ‘Blazing Saddles’:

Howie Long

The defensive end and tackle was one of the best defenders of his era while playing for the Raiders in the 1980s, racking up awards and even a Super Bowl victory. His acting career might have been short-lived, but Long made a mark in ‘Broken Arrow’ and ‘Firestorm.’ Today, Long can be found on TV as a Fox Sports analyst and in the occasional TV commercial.

Check out Long in this preview for ‘Firestorm’:

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