3. Vince Vaughn as Jamie O'Hara in Rudy
During the phase of his career when Vaughn made the mistake of trying to play roles that weren’t just hilariously perverted variations of his own personality, he showed up in Rudy as a blue chip quarterback on the same team as Sean Aston’s annoying go-getter. If you look at physical traits alone, which we’re assuming is the only thing that Hollywood producers look at when casting sports movies, Vaughn doesn’t seem like an outright bad choice here. Robbed of his riffing improvisational ability, he’s still a tall, athletic-looking guy (assuming that you catch him on a day when he doesn’t inexplicably weigh 250 lbs).
However, when Vaughn tries to make an athletic move with the football in one practice scene, he takes the two daintiest steps since man began walking upright and thrusts a hand out to the side like a woman with cramps, before getting leveled by Mikey from Goonies. This leads to an on-field temper tantrum, and a scene in Wedding Crashers in which the football-movie gods of karma unleash holy hell on him for ever trying to strap on the pads.
Honorable Mention for Un-Athletic Performance in a Football Movie
Scott Bakula in Necessary Roughness
We actually thought this was just an especially long episode of Quantum Leap in which the incredibly out of shape Bakula leaps into the body of a college football quarterback despite throwing like he's been sitting on his hand for a week. We're still betting that this is how the movie was pitched.
2. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky I-IV (Early Rounds Only)
Sure, the later rounds in Rocky fights are among the most compelling moments in sports cinema. But before you get to the part where Rocky guts one out for Mickey or Apollo or whichever loved one his opponent has recently killed, there’s always the first couple minutes of action in which Rocky uses his face to block every single punch the other guy throws. You'd think after four movie-long ass-kickings the guy would learn how to believably take a punch, but Stallone inevitably spends the early rounds of the fight with his hands at his sides, a surprised look on his face, trying and failing to snap his head back in rhythm with the jabs his opponent is throwing. Sly looks more like he's doing "The Elaine Dance" than he's taking a punch.
Honorable Mention for Un-Athletic Performance in a Boxing Movie
Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull
While DeNiro may have spent months gaining and losing weight for his role as Jake LaMotta, his boxing, and the way Scorcese shoots the ring action, evokes a creepy snuff film more than an exciting boxing match.