11 Athletes Who Surprised Us With Their TV Acting Skills (PHOTOS)

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athlete gallery - serena williams DROP DEAD DIVA
Lifetime

Serena Williams

Drop Dead Diva, “Rigged” (2012)



The tennis star traded her racquet for a script when she guest starred on Drop Dead Diva back in 2012. Williams played an attorney who was representing none other than Brandy (yes, that Brandy). The acting bug must’ve bit Williams hard, because she also made cameos in other television shows such as My Wife And Kids and Law & Order: SVU.

hulu - jeter

Derek Jeter & Bernie Williams

Seinfeld, “The Abstinence” (1996)



The New York Yankees shortstop and center fielder both played themselves in an episode of Seinfeld back in the ‘90s. George Costanza (Jason Alexander), the assistant to the traveling secretary for the Yankees, teaches Jeter and Williams a thing or two about hitting. Jeter and Williams give him a hard time about booking them in a bad hotel in Milwaukee despite winning the World Series. Constanza couldn’t care less, since it took them six games to win.

athlete gallery - kobe bryant MODERN FAMILY
ABC

Kobe Bryant

Modern Family, “Family Portrait” (2010)



The former Los Angeles Lakers star appeared as himself in Modern Family’s season one finale. Phil (Ty Burrell), Gloria (Sofía Vergara), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) attend a Lakers game. Phil sees Bryant in the tunnel and gets starstruck when Bryant points him out. A flustered Phil mutters out, “Do you like being a basketball player?” Bryant tells him to be better prepared next time before running onto the court.

hulu - utley
Hulu

Chase Utley & Ryan Howard

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods” (2010)



The gang is off to a charity event in Atlantic City when Frank (Danny DeVito) decides to avoid tolls and take the backroads. As the title suggests, they get stranded. Somehow, Charlie (Charlie Day) and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) hitch a ride to the event, where they pretend to be Frank and Mac (Rob McElhenney) and meet Mac’s idol, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, and his teammate, first baseman Ryan Howard. The teammates play themselves and spend the whole night trying to keep up with a wild Charlie and Dennis.

athlete gallery - lebron james ENTOURAGE
HBO

LeBron James

Entourage, “Give A Little Bit” (2009)



In a brief scene with Matt Damon, James lets Vince (Adrian Grenier) know right away that Vince’s charitable donation of $10,000 was “a little light.” Vince offers to match James’s donation, but backs down when James mentions that he gave $1 million. Eventually, James says he would be happy with a donation of $150,000 because “it’s for the kids.” James has gone on to appear in other acting roles, too, including bigger roles like the movie Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.

hulu - bonds
Hulu

Barry Bonds

Beverly Hills 90210, “Cuffs and Links” (1994)



Bonds just so happened to play a character named Barry—a coincidence? Probably not. Bonds is competing in a father/son golf tournament with his father against Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering) and his dad, Rush (Jed Allan). Turns out, Steve finds out that his dad rigged the competition, so he awards Bonds and his dad with the win instead. Bonds can add another championship to his long list of accolades, although this one is completely fictional.

hulu - crews
Hulu

Terry Crews

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Series Regular (2013-present)



After retiring from the NFL in 1997, Crews dove into the acting world. Most recently, he stars as Sergeant Terry Jeffords in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, alongside Andy Samberg. Despite his tough exterior, Sergeant Jeffords shatters the idea of toxic masculinity with his emotional and protective tendencies. He’s also an avid fan of yogurt.

hulu - barkley
Hulu

Charles Barkley

The Goldbergs, “The Pina Colada Episode” (2019)



Barkley goes back to Philadelphia, where he started his NBA career, to play Neelo Greene, Adam’s (Sean Giambrone) possible gym teacher replacement. His whole shtick is that he won’t allow anyone to score on him—nope, not even close. He knocks down the basketballs along with the students’ egos, although did they really think that they could score against Sir Charles Barkley? Ultimately, he doesn’t get the job, since he’s a little preoccupied with a potential alien invasion.

hulu - nick swisher
Hulu

Nick Swisher

How I Met Your Mother, “Perfect Week” (2010)



Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) attempts to get with seven different girls over the course of one week. He makes it six days until New York Yankees player Nick Swisher walks into MacLauren’s Pub, distracting his seventh lady. His friends pull out all of the stops in order to keep Barney’s perfect week in check: Lily (Alyson Hannigan) “trips” in front of the girl, while Ted (Josh Radnor), Robin (Cobie Smulders), and Marshall (Jason Segel) swoop into Swisher’s booth.

netflix - kershaw
Netflix

Clayton Kershaw

New Girl, “Prince” (2014)



Starring as himself, Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers, gets the cold shoulder at Prince’s house party from Jess (Zooey Deschanel), who mocks his profession by stating she’s a “Los Angeles astronaut.” His first TV stint was a short one, but he set the tone for a future acting career—after he retires from baseball, of course.

hulu - manning
Hulu

Peyton Manning

Saturday Night Live, “Season 32 Episode 16” (2007)



Who knew the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback—who has won two Super Bowls, by the way—has what it takes to become a comedian? Manning proved he has some jokes when he hosted Saturday Night Live back in 2007. His United Way PSA sketch still has people cracking up over 10 years later as Manning teaches some kids a few questionable skills. Let’s just say the slogan—”Spend time with your kids so Peyton Manning doesn’t”—pretty much sums it up.

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Whether it’s the World Series, the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl or Wimbledon, fans love to see their favorite athletes win big, but they also love watching their favorite athletes show off their acting chops, too. While some athletes should probably stick with their day jobs, there are quite a few who may just have what it takes to make their big Hollywood break.

Here are some of the athletes who have the most potential when it comes to the acting world.

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