Posted: Friday May 13, 2005 10:22AM; Updated: Friday May 13, 2005 11:27AM
Mike Ditka plays Will Ferrell's assistant coach.
Suzanne Hanover/Universal Pictures
Mike Ditka's cameo in the Will Ferrell soccer comedy Kicking & Screaming is the latest in a long line of cinematic pop-ins by sports figures. Here is our list of the 10 most memorable cameos.
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane! (1980): This is a meatier role than the typical cameo, but Kareem's role as co-pilot Roger Murdock (or is it Kareem playing Kareem moonlighting as a co-pilot?) wittily spoofed his stand-offish reputation. When young Joey takes a tour of the cockpit, he recognizes Kareem, who insists that he is really Roger Murdock. Still, Kareem can't help but rise to the bait when Joey informs him that his dad says Kareem doesn't really try until the playoffs. Grabbing hold of the frightened boy, Kareem barks, "Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes." Kareem also memorably played himself in a dream sequence in Fletch and traded kung-fu kicks with Bruce Lee in Game of Death.
2. Reggie Jackson in The Naked Gun (1988): Playing "Angels right fielder," Jackson is unwittingly drafted as a would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth by baddie Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban). Demonstrating a robotic servility that he never did for Billy Martin, Jackson picked up a gun hidden under second base and moved in for the kill. Fortunately, Lt. Frank Drebin stopped him (with the "help" of an overweight female fan) to save the day.
3. Lance Armstrong in Dodgeball (2004): Playing himself, Armstrong bumps into Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) after the latter has decided to bail on his team because the obstacles seem too great. After Armstrong briefly recites the details of his heroic recovery from cancer and eventual Tour de France domination, LaFleur is shamed into returning to his squad for the championship game. We give the performance three and a half Livestrong bracelets.
4. Brett Favre in There's Something About Mary (1998): Though Favre only appears briefly onscreen, his character is actually key to the plot. Mary (Cameron Diaz) had broken up with him because a friend (who was really a jealous suitor) had told her that Favre wasn't comfortable around her mentally disabled brother Warren. In the climactic scene, Ted (Ben Stiller) reunites Mary and Brett, though not before butchering his name. Mary, of course, chooses Ted, and Favre presumably must turn to his three MVP awards as solace.
Have a question or opinion for Pete? He might answer/address it in his mailbag.
5. Cam Neely in Dumb and Dumber (1994): The former Bruins forward has become a staple in movies by the Boston-sports-loving Farrelly Brothers, but he was at his best as Sea Bass. When Harry (Jeff Daniels) tosses a salt shaker over his shoulder at a diner, he hits the surly truck driver played by Neely, who promptly menaces the pair. Still, perhaps Sea Bass was just a misunderstood man looking for love, in his case in a bathroom stall. Neely returned in Me, Myself and Irene as Trooper Sea Bass, which presumably was a promotion.
6. Dan Marino in Ace Ventura (1994): Marino gamely plays along when kidnapped by a transsexual former place-kicker (Sean Young) who blames him for missing a short field goal that would have won the Super Bowl because of Marino's allegedly poor hold (laces out!). Marino and Jim Carrey, as Ace, amusingly trade insults as Lt. Einhorn/Ray Finkle (Young) tries to decide whom to shoot first. Sadly, Marino didn't even get to win a Super Bowl in the movies.
7. Lawrence Taylor in Waterboy (1998): In a misbegotten case of life failing to imitate art, L.T. appears as himself, warning a group of football players against drugs. His most memorable line: "Which brings me to my second point, kids. Don't do crack." Unfortunately, Taylor was arrested for trying to buy crack from an undercover officer before the movie opened. Do as I say, kids, not as I do.
8. Craig Stadler in Tin Cup (1996): The Walrus came off as a natural in a scene in which Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy (Kevin Costner) is caddying for his friend/foe David Simms (Don Johnson) in Simms' charity golf tournament. After Tin Cup blasts Simms for laying up, Stadler asks Tin Cup to attempt the shot so the Walrus can collect on a side bet. Tin Cup, of course, clears the water and lands it on the green, losing his loop in the process.
9.Muggsy Bogues in Curb Your Enthusiasm (2004): OK, so this wasn't a movie, but it's not TV, it's HBO. Bogues encounters Richard Lewis in a restroom and becomes enraged when he believes that Lewis is sneaking a peek at his "equipment." No word if Bogues was employing the Original Whizzinator.
10. Uga V in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997): Uga displayed impressive range by portraying his father, Uga IV, in the film version of the non-fiction book about a famous Savannah murder. Sonny Seiler, the attorney who defended Jim Williams, is the real-life owner of the bulldogs that have served as the University of Georgia's mascot. Uga V, who also appeared on the cover of SI in 1997, passed away in 1999. His son, Uga VI, now prowls the sidelines and is currently the star of a documentary (dogumentary?), Damn Good Dog.