Athletes are often very well-equipped to move on to acting when their competitive days on the field are over. Many athletes never have to deal with stage fright, because they have been performing in front of big crowds since their childhood or teenage years. This helps them develop the confidence needed to be successful in acting. All they need is acting ability, which is much easier to come by for some former athletes than many others. Some of the most successful television shows in history have used athletes as stars and key cast members.
NCIS (2003 — present)
This is one of the most successful shows in television and it stars Mark Harmon as special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who leads a team of investigators for the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service. Gibbs uses his experience and instincts as well as the criminal investigator's book to help solve crimes. Harmon is one of the most successful actors in television. He has worked steadily and starred in several shows, including "St. Elsewhere", "Reasonable Doubts" and "Chicago Hope" in addition to "NCIS. Harmon was an excellent quarterback at UCLA in 1972 and '73. Harmon is a sharp and analytical actor who has been nominated for prime time Emmy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild awards and the People's Choice Awards. Harmon's professionalism makes him one of the most bankable actors in the business.
Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001)
Chuck Norris starred as a crime-solving Texas Ranger Cordell Waker, who used his experience and analytical abilities to solve crimes in Dallas and throughout Texas. Norris was a karate champion, winning the world middleweight karate championship in 1968 and holding the title until he retired in 1974. Norris was also the executive producer of the show and has also performed in several other TV series and made-for-TV movies.
Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)
This was one of the most successful police dramas in TV history. The show was set in anonymous inner city that was often compared to Chicago. Former Minnesota Viking running back Ed Marinaro played officer Joe Coffey, who appeared in 106 episodes during the show's run. Coffey was a brooding and athletic officer who had the ability to use his intelligence and thoughtfulness to solve crimes as well as his physical ability. Marinaro has been a regular on series television and has also appeared on "Sisters" and "Blue Mountain State".
My Name Is Earl (2005-2009)
This NBC program featured reformed troublemaker Earl Hickey, portrayed by Jason Lee, as a person who is sick and tired of living a troubled life and getting on the wrong side of Karma. Instead of cheating and engaging in unethical behavior so he could take the easy way out, Hickey wants to make amends with those he wronged and start doing things the right way. He makes a list of his transgressions and he goes about apologizing and making things right with those he hurt. Lee is a former professional skateboarder who popularized the 360 flip and became one of the most popular skateboarders on the pro tour.
The Incredible Hulk (1977-82)
This series was based on the popular comic book character Dr. Bruce Banner. The good doctor is performing a lab experiment, but he gets hit with altering gamma rays and turns into a large, muscular figure with huge features and green skin. He becomes known as the Hulk. Former bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno played the Hulk because of his oversized muscles. Ferrigno was very successful as a competitive bodybuilder and was often the chief rival and adversary of Arnold Schwarzenegger when they competed during the 1970s.
The Rifleman (1958-1963)