Another former sports star turning actor? Well, don't panic just yet...

Another Hollywood production is about to shoot some footage in my home state of Michigan. This time, it isn’t a lame sports low-brow comedy like Semi-Pro, but a sports drama called Touchback, and it will star Kurt Russell (one of my favorite actors) , Christine Lahti (who won an Oscar for Swing Shift back in 1984, which headlined Russell and his partnet Goldie Hawn) and Brian Presley (Borderland, Port Charles). But apparently there’s another, unexpected actor: former Detroit Lions Hall Of Fame Running Back Barry Sanders.
From the
Grand Rapids Press:

Lisa Kearns, the film’s executive producer, couldn’t confirm the casting of the former Detroit Lion and Hall of Fame running back, but said he may appear in a major scene shooting next week at the Coopersville High School football stadium.

“We’re going to have 2,000 extras at the football game on Friday night (Aug. 13),” she said. “There’ll be fireworks, Kurt Russell will be there, and potentially, Barry Sanders will be there.”

Now, generally, I don’t like the idea of athletes with no previous acting ability being in acting parts. Same thing goes for music related people. There are exeptions. For example, Shaquille O Neal was really good in Blue Chips in the 90s. His other feature film roles – Kazamm and Steel – stunk. And Shaq’s rap star was a nice attempt but a big joke. So why was he fine in Blue Chips? Well, he was playing a young basketball player. He played it well because he isn’t a musician or an actor, but he is a basketball star. Emeniem, a talented music artist was pretty good in 8 Mile, where he was generally playing a character loosely based on his own persona. In recent news we hear that annotying sugar coated teen sensation Justin Bieber getting his own movie. That’s an exception too- the young pop idol is playing himself….in 3D.

But since Touchbackconcerns a football coach and is a sports theme movie, by the way the Kearns says it, I would say it isn’t a rumor. I’d say Sanders is in the film…as a cameo. He is either playing himself or he is in a bit walk on role as a rival coach. He may not even have a speaking part. Having real-life sports figures in sports movies is not uncommon, for it mixes up a fiction world with the real one, giving the film a slight bit of authenticity. Sly Stallone’s Rocky series is a good example of this, right down to the first movie where Joe Frazier walked in the ring to greet Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). If it is something like that, I don’t have much problem with it. I only get a bit hesitant when it is major parts offered sports stars and musicians, and they are not playing sports stars or musicians. Of course, this isn’t true across the board. Cher is a good actress, Will Smith is a good actor. The Wahlberg brothers have some good films and TV shows between them. All got their starts in music. Vinnie Jones played soccer once. Chuck Norris had professional karate fights before Good Guys Wear Black. Dean Cain, Fred Dryer (TV’s “Hunter” from the 80s) and character actor Bubba Smith (Police Academy, Black Moon Rising) all played football. So there are exceptions here and there.

But I don’t want Barry Sanders to share the fate as Joe Namath’s movie career either. Or former LA Dodger Steve Garvey, for that matter.