In light of the recent discovery of a young Jim Harbaugh playing himself on “Saved By The Bell: The new Class”, we thought it might be fun to look at five other performances by athletes on television. There were a few we were unable to find, like Wayne Gretzky on “Young and the Restless” or Bo Jackson in the dream sequence from the first season of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. We also opted out of series on pay channels, like HBO, because they have shows that are constructed almost entirely from cameos (“Entourage”, anyone?). These five gems, however, have video so sit back and enjoy the list, presented to you in no particular order.
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on “Diff’rent Strokes”
What could be more entertaining that watching tiny Gary Coleman go up against the 7’2″ Kareem? In this episode Kareem plays a substitute teacher who punishes Arnold for misbehaving in class. Arnold decides to tell his adoptive father, Mr. Drummond, that he’s been abused. Hilarity ensues and, of course, lessons are learned.
2. Reggie Jackson – “The Jeffersons”
Poor George Jefferson. Despite getting his own spin-off from “All In The Family” he just kept running into trouble. In this particular episode, he goes to a Yankees game where, on television, he drops a home run ball hit by then Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson. He slips into depression and Weezy decides she must find Reggie in order to cure her husband.
3. Kevin McHale – “Cheers”
In this particular episode, the Cheers gang is set to play a basketball game against their rival bar, Gary’s Olde Town Tavern. Sam Malone, being an ex-reliever for the Red Sox, calls in a favor from his buddy Kevin McHale. He gives Kevin a job as a bartender so he can qualify to play in the game. The best bits are Woody talking about how Larry Bird is a hick for being from French Lick (Woody is from Hanover) and then McHale’s diss on Bill Laimbeer.
4. Keith Hernandez – “Seinfeld”
This cameo is consistently rated as one of the best in television history. Kramer and Newman are at odds with Keith Hernandez, who believes he spit on them at a Mets game after they called him “pretty boy”. Hernandez handles the appearance beautifully and, later in the episode, strikes up an interesting friendship with Jerry after dating Elaine. “I’m Keith Hernandez.”
5. Peyton Manning – “Saturday Night Live”
Okay, this isn’t technically a cameo because he was hosting, but my god was Peyton funny that night. In honor of finding out he’s got a sense of humor, we present you not one but two clips from that episode. The first is the famous United Way commercial, and the second is the inspirational speech given by his coach during halftime of a basketball game where they are getting crushed.