Top Five Television Characters That Were former Athletes

Nothing’s better than a former high school or pro athlete who will never get past his glory days. And it’s always fun to hear their stories. That same person, same character is great to see on television as well. While we’ve seen a fair amount of characters on television that reference their past athletic achievements, (hell even Patrick Duffy did it on Step By Step), these five are my favorites.

5. George Papadopolis – Webster (played by Alex Karras)

Oddly enough Karras was a real football player for the Detroit Lions. You might remember him in the movie Blazing Saddles where he played Mongo. In Webster however you see his softer side as the adoptive father of a child whose parents were killed. He played a former football star on the show. I just really like the name Papadopolis.

4. Cliff Huxtable – The Cosby Show (played by Bill Cosby)

While we all know the lovable Dr. Huxtable as a tough and hilarious family man (not to mention the Uncoachable sweaters), the show always referenced his past athletic stories. The big three were basketball, football, and of course track. In fact one of my favorite episodes has Cliff practicing in Draddy Gymnasium with Theo for a track race. I believe that same race he wound up losing to a woman. You gotta love Cliffy.

3. Tony Maselli – Who’s the Boss (played by Tony Danza)

While Danza was a real life boxer before becoming an actor, it was the baseball career of his character Tony Maselli that got the attention on the show. Maselli was a former second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals and there was even an entire episode that he dreams of what life would have been like if he had stayed a ballplayer. I particularly like the softball episode where he spits into Angela’s hand.

2. Sam “Mayday” Malone – Cheers (played by Ted Danson)

You may be wondering how this is number two and not one. It’s pretty tough to find an episode of Cheers that doesn’t reference Malone’s crappy pitching for the Red Sox at least once. There are too many moments to remember on that show but let’s just say the girl chasing, smooth talking has been character was one of the best in television history.

1. Al Bundy – Married With Children (played by Ed O’Neil)

There is no arguing with 4 TD’s for Polk High.

*Honorable mention to Hanging with Mr. Cooper (and yes that was a joke).

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