Sunday, February 2, 2020

Acting! Thank you!

As I was re-sleeving the partial 1973 Topps football set I bought last weekend, I came across the Merlin Olsen card and I remembered that he had a  post-football acting career.  It also occurred to me that other football players made a transition into acting after they retired.  It got me thinking about how many playes with cards in ther '73 football set actually had Hollywood careers.

While I will make no representation that this is complete, my best estimate is 11 players featured in this set also had some form of acting career.   So, let's take a look. I included a small summary of their football career and what I consider their most iconic acting role.  Keen observers will note that my choice of iconic roles gives away my age and primary TV viewing era.  Since YMMV, I have included a link to each players IMDB profile, so you can view their acting career and decide for yourself what you consider their greatest role.

Terry Bradshaw - Card #15  

Football Career Summary: 
  • 14 seasons and 158 starts as a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 107-51 record
  • Playoff appearances in 9 seasons and a 14-5 record including 4 Super Bowl wins in 4 attempts.
  • Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989 along with teammate Mel Blount
Most Iconic Acting Role:  

Deacon Jones -  Card #38

Football Career Summary:
  • 14 year career (19061-1974) as a Defensive End, mostly with the LA Rams but also 2 seasons with the SD Chargers and1with the Redskins
  • 8 Pro Bowl appearances
  • Considered one of the greatest defensive players ever, he coined the term "sack."
  • Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980

Most Iconic Acting Role: 

Larry Csonka - Card #100

Football Career Summary:
  • 11 year NFL career as a fullback - 8 with the Miami Dolphins and 3 with the NY Giants. He played 1 year in the defunct World Football League
  • 3 1000 rushing seasons
  • Played in 3 consecutive Super Bowls, winning 2 and taking home the MVP in Super Bowl VIII
  • Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987
Most Iconic Acting Role
Bubba Smith - Card #155

Football Career Summary:
  • Played 9 seasons across 10 years, 5 with Baltimore and 2 each with Oakland and Houston
  • 2 Time Pro Bowler
  • Played in Super Bowl V with the Baltimore Colts, the winner over the Dallas Cowboys
Most Iconic Acting Role: 

Roman Gabriel - Card #266

Football Career Summary:
  • 16 year career as a QB with the LA Rams(11 years) and Philadelphia Eagles (5 years)
  • Started 157 games with an 86-64-7 record
  • NFL MVP in 1969

Most Iconic Acting Role: 

Dick Butkus - Card #300  

Football Career Summary:
  • Played 9 seasons, all with the Chicago Bears
  • 8 time Pro-Bowler
  • Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979
  • Scored 10 points in his NFL career: 6 on a fumble recovery for a TD, 2 on a safety, and 2 on extra point kicks 

Most Iconic Acting Role: 

Lyle Alzado - Card #312

Football Career Summary:
  • Played 15 seasons (!) as a Defensive End for Denver (8 years), Cleveland (3 years) and the LA Raiders (4 years)
  • 2 time Pro Bowler
  • Played in 2 Super Bowls including on the winning side of Super Bowl XVIII
Most Iconic Acting Role: 

Fred Dryer - Card #389

Football Career Summary:
  • 13 year career as a defensive end starting with 3 years with the Giants, which culminated in a trade to the Patriots and subsequent trade to the LA Rams where he spent the last 10 years of his career
  • Set an NFL record by scoring two safeties in a single game against the Packers on 10/21/1973
  • Played in Super Bowl XIV in which the Rams lost to the Steelers

Most Iconic Acting Role:

Joe Namath - Card #400

Football Career Summary:
  • 13 year career, mostly with the NY Jets, but finished out his career in 1977 with the Rams. He started the first 4 games of the season with a 2-2 record and rode the pine the remainder of the season before retiring
  • Led the Jets to an upset victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III
  • Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985
Most Iconic Acting Role: 
  • Himself in The Brady Bunch
  • He also has guest hosted the Tonight Show subbing in for Johnny Carson
  • Namath's IMDB

Merlin Olsen - Card #479

Football Career Summary:
  • 15 year career all with the LA Rams as a Defensive Tackle and only missed two games in that time
  • 1962 Rookie of the Year
  • Played in 14 Pro Bowls, only missing in his final season
  • Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982

Most Iconic Acting Role: 
  • Jonathon Garvey in The Little House on the Prairie
  • Olsen's IMDB

OJ Simpson - Card #500

Football Career Summary:
  • 11 year career, 9 of which were with the Buffalo Bills and the final two with the 49ers.
  • First running back to rush for more than 2000 yards in a season in 1973. That still stands as the 7th best rushing season in NFL history 
  • Turned in a 95 yard punt return for a TD and has actually passed for a touchdown.
  • Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985

Most Iconic Acting Role: 

So, there are the eleven subjects in the 1973 Topps football set who also had acting careers.  Interestingly, there are two other players who were active during the 1973 season, and had acting careers, but did not get their first trading card until Topps' 1974 set: Ed Marinaro, best known as a regular on Hill Street Blues and John Matuszak, who made a fair number of guest appearance in TV shows and movies but is best known for playing Sloth in The Goonies.

EDIT: Does anyone get Blogger?  I publish posts and it has multiple fonts and line spacings despite me not trying to do that.  It really ticks me off and having to fix it in the HTML code is a real PITA.

What I am listening to: Paranoid by Black Sabbath


  1. Fun post. I've seen about half the acting roles listed, Terry Bradshaw's is my favorite.

  2. I thought about doing something similar with yesterday's post (it had about half these guys in it), but ultimately decided against it... glad to see that someone else had the better sense to go ahead see it through though :)

    1. I wouldn't necessarily claim to *better* sense, but thanks.

  3. Tim Rossovich also had a brief Hollywood career.

  4. Great post. I always though I recognized these guys because my father talked to me about football a lot when I was a kid, but after reading this post... I'm starting to think it has more to do with their television appearances.