Fame After Football: 5 Athletes Turned Celebrities

Many athletes in different sports have successfully transitioned from their games to different forms of entertainment and social life. For some, transitioning out of their sports careers is out of their comfort zone. However, as they leverage their existing fan base and enjoy increasing popularity, they have grown to love their celebrity life.

In sports like football, star players are greatly visible to the public eye, making them instant celebrities on the field. But few of them have jumped off the field and taken various entertainment roles, including endorsements, acting, and hosting, among many others.

Let’s name these athletes turned celebrities and discover their post-sports achievements as entertainment personalities.

Joe Namath

American football player Joe Namath was a skilled New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams quarterback. The New York Jets dominated sports betting odds, lines, and spreads in Super Bowl III, naming Namath the Super Bowl MVP III. Additionally, Namath was the NFL passing yards leader (1972), AFL Championship MVP (1968), AFL MVP (1968), AFL Rookie of the Year (1965), and 2× AFL passing yards leader (1966, 1967), among many other awards under his belt.

He started his showbiz career by hosting the 1969’s The Joe Namath Show. Later, he starred in  C.C. and Company in 1970 and a brief television series, The Waverly Wonders, in 1978. Many television shows and films followed. Moreover, Namath also served as a color commentator on NFL broadcasts. His most recent screen appearance is in the 2013 sports film Underdogs and the 2015 comedy film The Wedding Ringer.

Nnamdi Asomugha

If you’re an avid fan who participated in betting on sites like FanDuel Sportsbook, then you definitely know who Nnamdi Asomugha is.

Former cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha played for the Oakland Riders, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Francisco 49ers. He was a 2× First-team All-Pro, 2× Second-team All-Pro, and 2× Second-team All-Pro. In 2009, Asomugha was named the “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year.

He officially announced his retirement on December 27, 2013. He made his acting debut in 2008 on The Game, a popular The CW Network sitcom. In the following year, he played the role of  Ken Shaw in the season premiere of Friday Night Lights Season 4. His breakout film was the  Amazon Studios film Crown Heights, which he also produced. The film won the  Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic Film at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2017.

Terry Crews

Before Terry Crews became a popular host and actor, he was also once a football player. He played for American football from 1991 to 1997. Crews accepted the role as a linebacker /defensive end for the San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Rhein Fire, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles.

Crews has participated in 32 NFL games throughout his football career. In 1997, he retired from the NFL and pursued acting. He got his first acting part in the syndicated game show Battle Dome. Later, Crews had his breakout role as Damon in Friday After Next. His projects were mainly comedic as he played off his athletic physique on his characters.

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson, also known as “The Rock,” was a professional wrestler and footballer. He was a tackle in a high school in Pennsylvania and continued playing the role at the University of Miami. The Miami Hurricane Football, which he participated in in 1991, won the national championship.

After completing his Bachelor of General Studies degree, Johnson was signed by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League as a linebacker. However, he was cut by the team in the 1995 season.

Nonetheless, Johnson decided to pursue professional wrestling in the following year. He rose to superstardom as a World Wrestling Federation (WWF) champion from 1998 to 2000. With his undeniable charm as a wrestler, Johnson smoothly transitioned to acting in 2001. His first television acting job was the character of his father in the That Wrestling Show, an episode of  That ’70s Show.

He also played the character of an alien wrestler in Tsunkatse, the 15th episode of  Star Trek: Voyager. From this humble career beginning, Johnson is now known as one of Hollywood’s most successful and highest-paid actors. His most recent hit is Netflix’s Red Notice in 2021, and his cameo appearance during the mid-credits scene of Fast X last May 2023.

Carl Weathers

American director and actor Carl Weathers was a former American professional football player before he entered the entertainment scene. He played as a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders and BC Lions. He participated in eight NFL games and 13 CFL games throughout his football career.

In 1874, Weathers retired from football and pursued acting. He starred in two blaxploitation films, “Bucktown” and “Friday Foster,” directed by his good friend, Arthur Marks. Later, he got the chance to play Apollo Creed in Rocky and successfully reprised the role for Rocky II, Rocky III, and Rocky IV.

His most recent acting milestone is the  Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor for his role as Greef Karga in several episodes of The Mandalorian Star Wars series first season. He also returned in the second (“Chapter 12: The Siege) and third season (Chapter 20: The Foundling).

Final Thoughts

A football player’s career doesn’t stop after retirement. Pursuing diverse interests, like acting, is one way to continue making a positive impact after your playing days. The athletes we have mentioned here have pursued their passions and embraced new challenges, expanding the reach of sports while enjoying their celebrity status off the field!