Top 7: NFL Defenders-Turned-Movie-Star-Performances

August 12, 2011

A tragic blow befell both the sports and entertainment worlds last week, when Bubba Smith died at the not-so-old age of 66. Smith starred at Michigan State and later in the NFL, where he played nine seasons, was named to two Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts.

Despite all his accolades on the gridiron, Smith was perhaps best-known as Cadet (and later Sergeant) Moses Hightower, a role he played in the original 1984 hit movie Police Academy, all the way through Police Academy 6: City Under Seige. He had the good sense to steer clear of part seven, 1994’s straight-to-video Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. Truly, if there is any silver lining with his passing, it could be that it’s by far the best assurance we have that there will never be a Police Academy 8.

As the world’s foremost expert on the Police Academy movie franchise, I can confidently say that Smith as the gentle giant florist-turned-hard-nosed-cop has to be one of the greatest acting performance ever turned in by an NFL defensive player. But where exactly does the Hightower character rank among all big screen performances by NFL defenders? For that, we resurrect an old friend, the Joe Sports Fan Top 7.

7. Howie Long – Kelly – Broken Arrow
When the character you’re playing doesn’t have a last name, that’s not a good sign. The only thing more square than Long’s haircut is his acting. Although deserving of every barb ever directed at him by Terry Bradshaw on Fox’s NFL Sunday, the death of his character in Broken Arrow did give birth to the Howie Scream, making it more memorable than Firestorm (1998), and thus making our list.

6. Bill Romanowski, Lawrence Taylor, and About 90 Other NFL Players – Prison Convicts – Any Given Sunday (1999)
Bill Romanowski and Lawrence Taylor playing football players that had significant run-ins with the law – that’s like Britney Spears playing a young woman driving cross country from the Deep South to Los Angeles to become a singer. And yet somehow, Romanowski is the only one of the three that’s avoided going to jail in real life. Go figure.

5. Brian Bosworth – Joe Huff / John Stone – Stone Cold (1991)
The best way to describe the movie Stone Cold would be as a poor man’s Road House. Now that you’ve been properly enticed, give it a look. Nobody else did. The contract “The Boz” signed as a rookie with the Seattle Seahawks brought in more money than this stinker. However, this movie did feature 92 minutes of Bosworth’s signature frosted mullet and enough male shirtlessness to make Chuck Norris blush. On this basis alone, this film clearly earns its merits.

4. Alex Karras – Mongo – Blazing Saddles (1974)
Sure, you know him as George Papadopoulos, the loving father of a tiny yet fully-grown man afflicted with a terrible genetic disorder, but Karras makes this list because of those three little words that everyone longs to hear: “Telegram for Mongo.”

3. Terry Crews – President Camacho – Idiocracy (2006)
Crews plays Dwayne Elizondo Camacho, 5-time Ultimate Smackdown champion, porn superstar, and president of the United States. He presided over the House of Representin’. He learned that water didn’t always come from the toilet. Crews actually turns in a really funny performance, and the movie is hilarious.


2. Dick Butkus – Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)
Glory Busterburgerlujah! Ah, one of the many advantages of growing up with HBO and absent parents has to be seeing this movie about 127 times as a child.  Somehow, former University of Illinois and Chicago Bears all-time great Dick Butkus, the man to whom all other linebackers will forever be compared, manages to raise his legacy to new heights with his stirring, heartfelt portrayal of Drill Sergeant Ben Drootin, who’s constantly cracking down the misfit students at Buster Burger University trying to earn their bachelor’s degrees in burgerology, or something like that. As an important side note: This movie contains more clever puns on gherkins and eating out than any other in history.


1. Bubba Smith – Sergeant Moses Hightower – Police Academy (Parts 1 Through 6)
It should come as no surprise that the dynamic role of Moses Hightower, played by the late Bubba Smith, tops our list. We watched as he blossomed from a mild-mannered florist into a one-man crime fighting force. We rooted for him as he overcame his own personal demons, like never having learned to drive a car.  We saw him stand up and fight for the rights of minorities, like he did for the patrons of the Blue Oyster Bar on numerous occasions. We watched as he grew into a more prominent leadership role, starting in Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach following the departure of Carey Mahoney. But most of all, we learned that there was no shortage of objects he could throw a really, really long way – be it a football, a set of matched luggage, what have you.

Honorable Mentions:

Lyle Alzado – Bronk Stinson – Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)
Any reason to bring up Ernest Goes to Camp is a good one. End of discussion.

Jim Brown – Fireball – The Running Man (1987), Slammer – I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Okay, so Jim Brown was not a defender. Who cares? This is Joe Sports Fan, not U.S. News & World Report. I’m sure he made a tackle or two after an interception during his career. I refuse to leave the man that played Fireball off this list completely.


Snail Mail Makes Big Comeback with NFL Lotharios

July 8, 2011

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams made headlines this week when it was revealed that he mailed a $76,000 engagement ring, along with a pre-recorded marriage proposal, to a former Texas beauty pageant winner.

Although difficult to understand why that didn’t turn out so well, it hasn’t stopped the idea of using snail mail to make advances toward women from making a big comeback in the NFL.

Yes, it seems the ongoing lockout and looming work stoppage isn’t the only thing taking us back to 1987.  One of the primary advantages of snail mail (or “the mail” as it used to be called) is that it makes it much more difficult to have your indiscretions immediately plastered all over the internet.

That is unless JSF happens to get a hold of it. Enter Brett Favre, who learned his lesson after getting caught using a cell phone to leave voice mails and send lewd photos to sideline reporter Jenn Sterger.

That lesson? No more smartphones. All you need to creepily stalk women is paper, a pencil, and a Polariod:

Favre Letter to Mistress

What’s amazing is how Favre managed to top Williams on the immaturity scale, with his proposition straight out of fifth grade.  Regardless, the informational caption on the Polaroid was a nice touch.

But Williams and Favre aren’t alone. New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan found some time to slip out and do some shopping when he was supposed to be hunkered down in a war room at this year’s NFL draft.

Rex Ryan's High Heel

Apparently he couldn’t wait to share his shopping conquest with his wife, so he had them shipped overnight. Which is just one more advantage of traditional mail, namely, you can’t fit size nine wides in an e-mail.

You Can Take the Mask Off Now, Tony

April 29, 2011

Tony La Russa isn’t really a big football fan type. The sport is far too barbaric for an enlightened fellow like the St. Louis Cardinals skipper. I’m guessing he’d be more at home attending an upscale wine tasting or the symphony. As far as bowls go, he’s obviously more Puppy than Super.

Which is why it’s kind of ironic that his daughter, Bianca, recently made the Oakland Raiders cheerleading squad.

Raiders fans are notorious for taking barbarism to a whole new level. Nothing exemplifies this more than the costume-clad weirdos that make up the Black Hole, a designated  area of the Coliseum occupied by the team’s rowdiest (read: dumbest) fans.

However, according to JSF sources, Tony has been getting into the Raiders spirit since Bianca became a Raiderette, even going as far as reserving a spot in the Black Hole so he can watch his daughter cheer in person. Of course, this requires he don a scary costume and mask. Thankfully, in light of recent events and diseases, this shouldn’t be a problem.

This is the father of an NFL cheerleader? Really? All things considered though, it’s a good thing La Russa is only a fan of the Raiderettes and not their manager. Otherwise, given his well-known preference for veterans over youth, you might get a cheerleading squad that looks something like this:

Although at four feet 10 inches tall, Estelle Getty is a prime candidate for a middle infield spot. Just ask Aaron Miles, Mike Gallego, César Izturis, and Nick Punto.

Tale of the Tape: NFL vs. Modern-Day Slavery

March 17, 2011

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson raised some eyebrows this week when he likened the current NFL labor situation to “modern-day slavery” in an interview with Yahoo Sports.

Peterson might be surprised to know that modern-day slavery actually still exists, most often in the form of bonded labor and human trafficking.  So perhaps we shouldn’t be so hasty as to dismiss his claims as yet another pampered, out-of-touch professional athlete spouting off about the hardships of being a twenty-something millionaire adored by fans for playing a game.

Instead, let’s go to the tale of the tape: Working for the NFL vs. Modern-Day Slavery…

It was a close call, but I think the NFL players may have a better set up.  Thankfully, I’m guessing most players–including Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant –would agree.

Besides, it might not even be the worst analogy we’ve heard lately, given that Dwayne Wade said people act like the World Trade Center collapsed every time the Miami Heat lose a few games, and Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy compared NBA commissioner David Stern to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi because of the lack of flagrant fouls drawn by center Dwight Howard.

At least their comments make it crystal clear that one thing you do not need to make your living in the professional sports world is perspective.

Newton or Tebow: Who Will Make a Better Pro?

March 11, 2011

Without a doubt, the two most celebrated quarterbacks to come out of college the last couple years are Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, which begs the question: Of the two, who will have a more successful professional career?

NFL scouts and general managers like to toss around terms like “passing accuracy” and “intelligence” when evaluating young quarterbacks, constantly using unfair criteria such as these to make snap judgments on their potential.

Another useless term scouts like to constantly harp on is “footwork.”  I mean, come on. You don’t throw a deep out pattern with your foot.
And just because Tebow and Newton possess virtually none of the typical characteristics of a franchise NFL quarterback, well, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy long and successful careers.

Fact is Tebow and Newton have many positive qualities that often go overlooked by scouts, despite being just as effective in determining future success. So let’s compare the two based on these criteria and predict which guy will make the better pro.

#1 – Jersey Sales 
Even though Cam Newton hasn’t been drafted yet, it would be hard to imagine him outselling Tebow’s jersey in Denver, where scores of Bronco fans like this one were proud to make Tebow’s No. 15 the third-best selling jersey of 2011.

Advantage: Tebow

#2 – National Championships
Vinny Testaverde, Tony Rice, Gino Torretta, Charlie Ward, Tommie Frazier, Danny Wuerffel, Brian Griese, Vince Young, Matt Leinart… nothing is a greater indicator of NFL success than for a quarterback to take home the mythical national championship. But since both Tebow and Newton each have one, it’s…

Advantage: Push

#3 – Trent Dilfer Arousal
Following Cam Newton’s recent Media Day workout, Trent Dilfer said, “If scouts had saw this they’d have been slobbering.” And the ESPN analyst with the penis-shaped head has consistently wet himself whenever the name Cam Newton has come up since.
Some even called it the best Media Day workout since JaMarcus Russell. We think that’s a good sign. 

Advantage: Newton

#4 – Josh McDaniels Confidence
Former Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels traded a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft to snatch up Tebow in the first round (25th overall), who many projected to be a 6th round pick at best, or not get drafted at all.

In addition to solid math skills, McDaniels is an unparalleled evaluator of talent, trading the likes of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Peyton Hillis, and Tony Scheffler in guiding the Broncos from 8-8 to 4-12 in just two short seasons. He even brought in Brady Quinn for crying out loud. The guy just knows what he’s doing. 

Advantage: Tebow

#5 – Morals
You don’t get much more squeaky clean and wholesome than Tim Tebow, who has engaged in less premarital sex than the BYU basketball team, despite hanging around women like this:

On the other hand, there’s Ben Roethlisberger, who’s been to three Super Bowls and seems to get stronger with each rape. Even so…

Advantage: Tebow###MORE###

#6 – Being a Project
Whether it’s a model car or a challenging jigsaw puzzle, everyone loves a project. NFL coaches and general managers are no different, which is one of the reasons why guys like Tebow and Newton are so appealing. After all, the list of quarterbacks labeled as projects early in their careers that went on to win Super Bowls is long and well-documented.

Advantage: Push

And the final tally is:

Congratulations, Tim Tebow! You will have the better NFL career. And while that might not mean much, we’re pretty certain Josh McDaniels would still trade a 3rd round pick for one of your jerseys.