The Green Bay Packers are heading to Texas to clash with the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, and there are many ways to preview the meeting. Insight could include terms like “elite quarterbacks” and “nitro package,” as well as speculation that during pregame warmups, Ezekiel Elliott might be straight-up naked. However, we’re going to ditch those angles in favor of judging the movies and TV shows in which Packers and Cowboys have appeared.
Millions upon millions of people love sports, even though athletes get away with a lot of stuff—like being shitty at acting 90 percent of the time, yet finding no shortage of acting work. Nonetheless, we’re drawn to versatility, which is probably why fantasy football lineups feature a flex option. So, ranging from the shitty to those who deserve a better adjective than shitty, let’s assess the acting credits of current and former players from two of America’s teams.
1-2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Aaron Rodgers (Key & Peele)
Using a classic premise of delightfully absurd names and a fast-paced comic rhythm, creative maestros Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele induced belly laughs with faux players who introduced themselves by names like Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace, Hingle McCringleberry, and “The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop.” For the third installment of the classic East/West Bowl skit, Key and Peele were interspersed with real pros who (mostly) shared the quirky names we associate with Strunk Flugget and Turdine Cupcake. Packers Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (birth name Ha’Sean) was willing to poke fun at his appellation, and for the topper, the bit concluded with Aaron Rodgers, who identified himself as A.A. Ron Rodgers. Despite the minimal effort of about 10 combined seconds of screen time, the sketch works.
3. Troy Aikman (The Simpsons)
Not to sound like softies, but less hatred can be a good thing. With that in mind, even if you don’t care for the Cowboys or Aikman’s commentary alongside sports fan whipping boy Joe Buck, it’s important to recall that the former Dallas quarterback once lent his voice to The Simpsons in the episode “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday.” When a crew including Homer, Bart, and Flanders attend the Super Bowl between the (covers mouth) Atlanta Falcons and the (covers mouth) Denver Broncos, Aikman is seated behind an easel outside of the stadium, drawing caricatures in his #8 jersey and silver tights—because why wouldn’t he be? “Do you like dune buggies?” he asks Flanders. Sure, he does, which means he’s in luck, because Troy Aikman draws every model riding in a dune buggy, grinning ear-to-ear with one thumb raised in ecstasy. The lesson is, instead of rejecting Aikman as a laconic leper, try focusing on the common bond of humanity: Everyone likes dune buggies.
4. Ray Nitschke (The Longest Yard and Head)
The ferocious middle linebacker of the Lombardi dynasty Packers may have looked like a cross between Sloth from The Goonies and a cranky principal, but that didn’t stop him from appearing in some memorable pictures (so long as he was cast as a football player). In the 1968 drugged-out comedy Head, Nitschke gratuitously tackles one of The Monkees in a foxhole during an absurdist spoof of warfare.
His role as Prison Guard Bogdanski in 1974’s The Longest Yard was less trippy, and if you think a man suffering pain in his genitals is entertaining, then Ray Nitschke was your kind of thespian. While blitzing through the middle during the Cons vs. Guards game, quarterback Burt Reynolds drops back and launches that pigskin directly into Nitschke’s dong. The Packers luminary displays excellent verisimilitude in his portrayal of a guy whose penis and nuts are in a state of agony. The ball! His groin! It works on so many levels!
5. Michael Irvin (The Longest Yard remake)
This middling 2005 remake furthered Adam Sandler’s transition from goofy to macho by including wrestlers like Goldberg and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (conspicuous in his absence was the Macho Man). Ex-NFLers were also cast to make people cringe, including Hall Of Fame receiver Michael Irvin as the convict Deacon Moss. As protagonist Paul Crewe, Sandler shares a pivotal scene with Moss/Irvin. Now, because the entire film builds up to a football matchup set in prison, the two play each other in a heated game of… uh, basketball. It doesn’t matter who wins. Nothing that happens in the remake of The Longest Yard matters.
6. Carlos Brown, a.k.a. Alan Autry (In The Heat Of The Night)
After Bart Starr retired, Green Bay’s play at quarterback was atrocious throughout most of the 1970s. Back when he called himself Carlos Brown, before he delved into switching up personas like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the future Alan Autry lost all three games in which he started for the Packers in 1976, his second and final year in the NFL. In search of a new career, he became an actor, and his efforts were rewarded when he landed a supporting role on a show that was less acclaimed than the film that inspired it: In The Heat Of The Night. The cop drama lasted eight seasons. It took place in Mississippi, so obviously someone had to play the part of a guy named Bubba Skinner, and that someone was Alan Autry. The story arc of Bubba’s rise from officer to sergeant to lieutenant to captain has been seen inside countless nursing homes.
7. Emmitt Smith (Little Giants)
Basically Pee-Wee Football’s answer to The Sandlot, 1994’s Little Giants taught some awkward nerds how to believe in themselves through battle on the gridiron. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith shows up to mentor the kids along with fellow legends Bruce Smith, Tim Brown, and John Madden after they roll up in a bus. (Or was that a season of Road Rules?) As an encouraging follow-up, over 20 years later, none of the children featured in Little Giants have reported any symptoms of C.T.E.
8. Reggie White (Reggie’s Prayer)
It’s been said before that the Minister of Defense’s foray into film espoused a heavy-handed Christian agenda. Secular viewers can place bets on how many times someone will say the phrase “Our Lord and Savior” for entertainment purposes, but that’s about it. The movie—that also had cameos by Mike Holmgren, Bryce Paup, and Keith Jackson—might have fared better with a different title, such as Pray, Sack, Rasp.
9. Tony Romo (Trainwreck)
In director Judd Apatow’s billionth film in the last decade, Romo, as himself, presents an award to a sports doctor played by Bill Hader, love interest of star Amy Schumer. This hurts to admit, but Romo’s cameo in the well-liked 2015 blockbuster comedy proved that the Cowboys signal caller-turned-broadcaster has more of a knack for acting than the next guy on the list.
10. Brett Favre (There’s Something About Mary)
When Gunslinger drawls, “That’s right, Mary, you know I’ll always be true to you,” a nation winced more than they did watching James Van Der Beek deliver the line, “I don’t want your life!” in Varsity Blues. So, while Favre may have been a shitty actor, at least he took some heat off Dawson.
Recap: The Cowboys’ lead in acting credentials became insurmountable after an animated Aikman appeared on the The Simpsons, but when you stop for a moment to really think about it, an edge like that won’t mean anything in the actual game. Packers 30, Cowboys 24.