Modern day sports stars, with their huge salaries and near-constant media coverage, undoubtedly have more opportunities and avenues available to them upon retirement than the stars of yesteryear. This is evident when looking at TV coverage of current sporting events which are dominated by ex-players embarking on new careers as pundits, commentators and presenters. Some former stars have even recognised how to combine their financial clout with the opportunity to improve their public image and brand. Rio Ferdinand is one such example, having starred in his own TV show Rio’s World Cup Wind-ups, created alongside producer Chris Nathaniel. Sports stars appearing on TV is not a new phenomenon however, in fact the precedent for athletes appearing on the big screen was set decades ago with some of the most famous sportsmen launching film careers that helped to pave the way for today’s crop.
Arguably the greatest NFL running back of all time, Jim Brown retired during his prime at just 29 years of age. Brown immediately embarked upon a successful film career, appearing in the 1969 western 100 Rifles alongside Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch, as well as The Dirty Dozen (1967) and The Running Man (1987), co-starring in the latter with another who made it on to this list, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger will undoubtedly go down as the most successful sportsmen-turned-actor on this list. Following his career as a professional bodybuilding and weightlifting champion, ‘Arnie’ found fame and success starring in films such as the Predator franchise, Conan the Barbarian and Total Recall, but is surely best remembered for his performance in the 1984 Fantasy/Sci-Fi classic, The Terminator.
O. J. Simpson began his film career whilst he was still playing in the NFL, appearing in the TV mini-series Roots and motion-pictures The Klansman and The Towering Inferno whilst in contract with the Buffalo Bills. His finest acting exploits however, came during the Naked Gun trilogy, a series of American crime comedy films where O. J. starred alongside Leslie Nielsen.
The final position on this list goes to Andre Rene Roussimoff, or ‘Andre the Giant’ to you and I. Andre had a successful career as a star of the World Wrestling Federation franchise throughout the 1970s and 80s. Upon retiring from the wrestling arena, Andre picked up roles as giants in several Hollywood films, most notably in the 1987 film The Princess Bride.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.