In our last installment of “Jock Straps and Theme Songs,” we met the stars of Hunter, the greatest football player of all time…and “Sloth.” Tonight we’ll meet a few stars and, since TV wouldn’t be TV without the commercials, we’ll also look at some of the iconic ads a few of these stars have on their resume.
Which TV stars will you become reacquainted with tonight? Will you remember their performances? Will you admit to watching their shows?
And now, for the thrilling conclusion of “Jock Straps and Theme Songs”…
A native of Flint, Michigan, Terry Crews attended Western Michigan University where he played defensive end. In 1991 he was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round of the draft. He stayed in the NFL for seven seasons, playing for the Rams, San Diego Chargers and the Washington Redskins. Over that span, he played 32 games and had 57 tackles.
Though his football statistics won’t knock you off your feet, you’re bound to be impressed by the prolific second career he has had in film and television. In addition to numerous cameo appearances, Crews typically plays the role of the rugged (though not necessarily intimidating) man with a comic, even softer, side. Currently, Crews and his family are the stars of their own reality series on BET, The Family Crews. More recently, he had the lead role in the family sitcom Are We There Yet? This year, he’ll be joining the Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) drama The Newsroom. However, the most notable and recognizable role for Terry has been that of Julius Rock, Chris Rock’s cheap and hard-working father in Everybody Hates Chris:
I really like Terry Crews—though I can’t help but focus on his huge scalp muscles! You probably also recognize him as an Old Spice pitchman:
Remaining TV Filmography:
· The Newsroom: as Lonny Church, beginning in July 2012
· The Boondocks: voiced characters in three episodes between November 2005 and October 2007
· All of Us: 5/23/05
· My Wife and Kids: 3/8/05
· CSI: Miami: 5/10/04
· The District: 11/23/02
· Battle Dome: 1/1/99
Ed Marinaro was a standout running back at Cornell University, where he became the first running back in NCAA history to have over 4,000 career rushing yards; he led the nation in rushing in 1970 and 1971. His college career earned him selection in the second round of the 1972 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991. His professional career—spent with the Vikings, New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks—was less impressive, but still respectable. During his career he appeared in two Super Bowls with the Vikings and amassed 1,319 rushing yards with six touchdowns and 1,176 receiving yards including seven touchdowns.
After retiring from football, Ed joined the ranks of acting athletes, and flourished. His first major role was in the hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley. For eleven seasons he played Sonny St. Jacques, a stuntman and the gals’ landlord when they moved to Burbank. His performance in L&S and elsewhere earned him a spot on the regular cast of Hill Street Blues as Officer Joe Coffey, which he played for five seasons.
Remaining TV Filmography:
· Days of Our Lives: 3 episodes in January 2011
· Blue Mountain State: 39 episodes as Coach Marty Daniels, January to November 2011
· Monk: 8/22/03
· 8 Simple Rules: 3/25/03
· Third Watch: 5/6/02
· Twice in a Lifetime: 9/13/00
· Odd Man Out: 12/10/99
· Grace Under Fire: 1/20/98
· Champs: 11 episodes as Vince Mazzilli, from January to August 1996
· Touched by an Angel: 12/7/94
· Sisters: four seasons as Mitch Margolis, from May 1991 to May 1994
· Monsters: 2/17/91
· Midnight Caller: 1/25/91
· Grand: 3 episodes as Eddie Pasetti, January, February and October 1990
· Baby Boom: 8/14/89
· The Twilight Zone: 4/15/89
· Dynasty: two episodes as Creighton Boyd, February and March 1989
· My Sister Sam: 1/1/88
· Falcon Crest: five episodes as John Remick, October 1987 and April 1988
· Private Eye: 9/18/87
· CBS Schoolbreak Special: What If I’m Gay?: 3/31/87
· Laverne & Shirley: eleven episodes as Sonny St. Jacques, April 1980-February 1981
· Flying High: 12/22/78
Dick Butkus became a household name as a linebacker at the University of Illinois; the uniform of legend Harold "Red Grange" and Butkus’ #50 jersey are the only ones that have been retired by the University. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and in 2007 ESPN ranked him #19 on its list of Top 25 Players in College Football History.
His success continued in the pros; he was drafted in the first round of the 1965 draft by the Chicago Bears, along with teammate Gale Sayers. During his nine-year career, the entirety of which was spent in Chicago, Butkus earned Pro Bowl selections in all but his last season and amassed 1,020 tackles, twenty-two interceptions and twenty-seven fumble recoveries. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
· Malibu, CA: 2/12/00
· Hang Time: 52 episodes as Coach Mike Katowinski, September 1998-December 2000
· MacGyver: three episodes, November 1990-December 1991
· Growing Pains: 1/5/88
· My Two Dads: 26 episodes as Ed Klawicki, from November 1987 to July 1989
· Matlock: 10/13/87
· Night Court: two episodes in May 1986
· Half Nelson: six episodes as “Beau,” May-March 1985
· Murder, She Wrote: 3/3/85
· The Love Boat: 10/6/84
· Blue Thunder: 11 episodes as Richard Butowski, January-March 1984
· Simon & Simon: 12/16/82
· The Greatest American Hero: 11/5/82
· Magnum, P.I.: 2/11/82
· Vega$: 3/11/81
· Taxi: 11/13/79
· The New Adventures of Wonder Woman: 3/17/79
· Fantasy Island: two episodes, 5/20/78 and 3/8/80
· Rich Man, Poor Man: 2/1/76
· Petrocelli: 12/10/75
· The Six Million Dollar Man: 11/2/75
· Bronk: 10/5/75
· Police Story: 1/28/75 and 9/9/75
· McMillan & Wife: 12/8/74
· Emergency!: 2/2/74
For a full discussion of Bo Jackson’s NFL and Major League Baseball careers, and his marketing prowess, read my “NFL-MLB Crossover Heroes” post on Bo. In addition to the scripted appearances, below, Bo made numerous appearances on talk and variety shows.
· The Sentinel: 11/6/96
· Married…With Children: 5/19/96
· Moesha: 2/13/96
· Diagnosis Murder: 3/31/95
Despite a tumultuous time at the University of Iowa, Alex Karras had a solid career there as a defensive tackle, earning him selection in the first draft of the 1958 draft by the Detroit Lions. It didn’t take long for Karras to become one of the best defensive tackles in the league, and build a reputation of ferocity and viciousness. He spent his entire 12-season career with the Lions, even though his tenure was interrupted by a one-year suspension for betting on NFL games.
Alex Karras played himself in the 1968 film adaptation of George Plimpton’s Paper Lion, and it was his performance in that movie that opened the eyes of casting directors and led him to several movie roles. Though he had several guest starring appearances on different shows, Karras’ TV curriculum vitae really begins and ends with his stint as George Papadapolis on the long-running series Webster. George and his wife, played by Karras’ real-life spouse Susan Clark, were the adoptive parents of the diminutive Webster, played by Emmanuel Lewis. As with Merlin Olsen, this iconic and career-defining role belied his on-field persona as an intimidating, hard-hitting brute.
· The Tom Show: 2/22/98
· Arli$$: 9/11/96
· Fudge: 1/7/95
· Webster: 150 episodes, from September 1983 to March 1989
· Centennial: 12 episodes as Hans Brumbaugh, from October 1978 to February 1979
· Mulligan’s Stew: 6/20/77
· ABC Afterschool Specials, “Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid”: 12/1/76
· M*A*S*H: 10/15/74
· McMillan & Wife: 9/29/74
· The Odd Couple: 10/5/73
· Love, American Style: 12/3/71
· Daniel Boone: 12/4/69
A star at the University of Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to a National Championship as its quarterback, Namath was drafted by the New York Jets of the upstart American Football League in 1964. He is best known in football lore for defeating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in a stunning upset. Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
As we learned in our Football History 101 series, “Broadway” Joe Namath never shrank from the spotlight. His post-football career was no different. Aside from the numerous appearances he made in the popular comedy and variety shows of the time, Namath made several guest appearances on scripted shows as well.
· The A-Team: 10/17/86
· Fantasy Island: 5/2/81
· The Love Boat: 1/26/80 and 5/9/81
· The Waverly Wonders: nine episodes as Joe Casey, from January to October 1978
Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson was fresh off his Heisman-Trophy senior season at the University of Southern California when he was the first overall draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1969 draft. Over his ten-year career as a running back, the last two of which were spent with the San Francisco 49ers, Simpson amassed 11,236 yards with 61 touchdowns; he earned six Pro Bowl selections and led the league in rushing four times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility.
Although he made many appearances on television, O.J. is probably better known for his success in film—most notably for his appearances in the Naked Gun franchise. Other movie credits include The Towering Inferno and Capricorn One. He also had a successful run as a spokesman for Hertz. I particularly like this one spoofing Miller Lite’s “Great Taste…Less Filling!” ads with Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith:
· In the Heat of the Night: 3/28/89
· Roots: 1/1/77 (right)
· Cade’s County: 3/19/72
· Medical Center: 9/24/69
I hope you've enjoyed our mini series on the biggest NFL stars that made it on the small screen. And I hope you enjoy today's games and tonight's Primetime Emmy Awards!