BY Steve Rudman 07:46AM 02/25/2011

Top 5 List: Top-rated movies with local stars

Former Tarzan heads the list of athletes who appeared in top-rated films.

Former Longacres jockey Gary Stevens, who won the Kentucky Derby three times, had a starring role in Seabiscuit (2003) / Wiki Commons

The 83rd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday night (televised by ABC). Rather than serve up another stale list of the best and worst sports movies, we decided to look at the highest-rated movies in which athletes with connections to Washington state appeared. Rather than go Roger Ebert on you, we relied on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) ratings (ratings below are on a scale of 0 to 10). In cases where an athlete appeared in more than one highly rated movie (former UW football/track star Herman Brix, for example), we listed only the highest-rated movie in which the athlete appeared. This double-bonus Top 5 List is by no means exhaustive, and is meant for entertainment purposes only.

  • 10

    Like Mike, 2002 (4.5): Former Sonics star Gary Payton (1990-03) is one of a dozen NBA players appearing in this clinker, which has to do with a 14-year-old orphan who becomes a superstar after trying on a pair of sneakers with the faded initials “M.J.” on the inside (it’s amazing Payton agreed to appear in this mess).
  • 9

    Stone Cold, 1991 (5.3): Former Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth (1987-89) gives a less-than-riveting performance as the star of this film. He plays Joe Huff, a tough, go-it-alone cop who has a knack for infiltrating dangerous biker gangs. The Boz also played a prison guard in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard.
  • T7

    Little Big League, 1994 (5.7): A young boy is bequeathed the ownership of a professional baseball team. Among those making cameo appearances: Mariners manager Lou Piniella, center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., and pitcher Randy Johnson.
  • T7

    Little Giants, 1994 (5.7): A bunch of misfits form their own team to oppose an elite peewee football powerhouse. Former University of Washington All-America Steve Emtman plays himself, as do Emmitt Smith, John Madden, Bruce Smith and Tim Brown.
  • 6

    Big Stan, 2007 (6.3)A weak con man learns he is going to prison for fraud and hires a martial arts expert to train him to defend himself against barbaric inmates. Bob Sapp, a football player at Washington (1994-96) who later became a renowned mixed martial arts master, plays the trainer, “Big Raymond”. Sapp also played “Switowski” in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.
  • 5

    The Longest Yard, 1974 (7.1): Former University of Washington quarterback Sonny Sixkiller (1970-72) plays the “Indian” in a movie in which a sadistic warden (Eddie Albert) asks a former pro quarterback (Burt Reynolds) serving time in prison to put together a team of inmates to take on the guards. Funniest football game in history, and the film won a Golden Globe in 1975.
  • 4

    Jerry Maguire, 1996 (7.3): Based, in part, on the career of sports agent Lee Steinberg, the film features dozens of professional athletes, playing themselves. Quarterbacks Warren Moon (Huskies, Seahawks) and Drew Bledsoe (Cougars) make cameo appearances in a film that stars Tom Cruise and Rene Zellwegger. Jerry Maguire included Cuba Gooding Jr.’s oft-quoted line, “Show me the money!”
  • 3

    Seabiscuit, 2003 (7.4): Former Longacres jockey Gary Stevens, who won eight Triple Crown and eight Breeders’ Cup races during a Hall of Fame career, plays George Woolf, who won the Triple Crown on Whirlaway and died after falling off his horse during a 1946 race at Santa Anita. Stevens, also the winner of the last Longacres Mile held at Longacres (1991), steals just about every scene in which he appears.
  • 2

    M*A*S*H, 1970 (7.7): Ben Davidson, who had a more productive career in the NFL than he did at the University of Washington (1959-60), has a not-so-substantial role in a famous film that stars Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall and Sally Kellerman. Davidson also had parts in Behind the Green Door, (1972, 6.0 IMDb rating), Conan The Barbarian (1982) and Necessary Roughness.
  • 1

    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948 (8.5): Bruce Bennett, known as Herman Brix when he participated in football and track at Washington (1925-27, once held the world record in the shot put), plays James Cody in a cast that includes Humphrey Bogart, John Huston and Tim Holt. The film netted two Academy Awards for Huston (directing, adapted screen play) and is the origin of the famous line, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges.” Bennett/Brix, the first movie “Tarzan,” (personally selected by Edgar Rice Burroughs), also appeared in such films as Sahara (1943, also with Humphrey Bogart, 7.6 IMDb rating) and Dark Passage (1947, with Bogart and Lauren Bacall, 7.5 IMDb rating).

“Top 5 List” is published every Friday as part of Sportspress Northwest’s package of home-page features collectively titled, “The Rotation.”

The Rotation’s weekly schedule:

  • Monday: That Was The Week That Was — A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
  • Tuesday: Wayback Machine — Sports historian David Eskenazi’s deep dive into local sports history, replete with photo eye candy.
  • Wednesday: Nobody Asks But Us — We ask, and answer, fun and quirky questions nobody else is asking.
  • Thursday: Water Cooloer Cool: Art Thiel takes on the weekend for the benefit of the more casual fan.
  • Friday: Top 5 List — The alpha and omega of Northwest sports, at least as far as we’re concerned.


  • The X-man in “Singles.” Priceless.

  • jafabian

    Won’t happen but I wish the NCAA would reinstate the freshman rule, where you couldn’t participate in sports until after your freshman year.  But then, if it was up to me I’d dump the three point line and the dunk.  I’m a purist that way.  You want to make it on SportsCenter?  Wait until the NBA or the Olympics. 

    The NBA is ruining the NCAA game with kids thinking they’re THIS far away from the NBA and making a huge financial windfall.  Another rule I wouldn’t mind seenig return but again, won’t ever happen is the hardship rule.  Or something like it.  I think if Spencer Hawes stayed the full four years at Washington he’s be an All-Star by now.  His game would be that much better.

    Calipari does seem to be working within the one-and-done rule even better than Coach Romar but then again his reputation isn’t the best.  How schools like Duke and North Carolina work with it is impressive.  They just keep rolling.  Here’s to the Huskies get to that level at some point under Lorenzo!

  • Artthiel

    Jafabian, you’re right, you’re a purist. No rolling things back to short short.  As far as denying kids jobs, the old rule was unfair, even if it messes with college ball. The game is mostly corrupt, but it’s good to see some guys, like Gant, getting as much out of college as they give. 

    • jafabian

      I’d like to see players like Gant or Brandon Roy join the coaching staff at some point.  Their experiences as four year players would be beneficial to future players on the team and would even be a good recruiting tool.  Parent’s would love to have them talk to their kid about the benefits on staying in school.

      Love your use of Spencer Haywood in your article Art.  His case DID change the game.  I’d say though that back then Spencer was a lot more ready for the NBA than a lot of kids who come into the game early today.  But then again Spencer didn’t have to deal with nearly as many things as today’s players do.

  • Pixeldawg13

    @ inkor: They’re a full game ahead *in the loss column*–which is what the article said.

  • FloydZ

    So he kicked a sign off the top of a car while drunk . . . that reminds me, isn’t Jerramy Stevens available? Koren Robinson perhaps?

    • Artthiel

       Floyd, we won’t ask him to marry your sister. But if he betrays Pete Carroll, you get to slap ’em both.

  • RadioGuy

    Can any of those Samoans he roomed with at Mt. San Antonio play offensive line?  We could use some O-liners who can stay healthy.

    Seriously, if Irvin can be an effective pass rusher and special teams monster for Carroll, he’ll help.  Sacks and forced fumbles never hurt.  Everyone’s concern is that Irvin won’t be able to stay out of trouble, and Pete doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement over Mike Holmgren in the enablement department.  We’ll all see soon enough.

    In the meantime, if I own a bar (or sandwich shop) in Pioneer Square, I’m making sure my insurance is paid in full.

    • Artthiel

       Definitely a high-risk, high-reward play. Holmgren, Carroll and most coaches often believe they can straighten out troubled kids, but they get to a lot of them too late in their lives, and can’t compete with money, sex and influence. 

  • Phharmening

    Maybe Carroll should hire Irvin’s mentor to keep him on a leash now that he’s going to be a millionaire.  I hope Irvin is savvy enough to have learned a valuable lesson from that last speed-bump.  Looks like the 12th man, and all the sports talk-jocks and writers will be wearing specially equipped magnifying glasses for the next year or two.   

    • Artthiel

       More than most, Irvin is going to need help with money and fame. He’s a a likeable guy, but like a lot of youngsters, who come to sudden wealth, they can’t say no to people who helped them along the way. And he’s had a lot of help.

  • Soggyblogger

    The truth is that immaturity causes plenty of rookies to implode. That is a given. Those with a past are more suspect then those without one, but they are all individuals. The best method of determining who will and who will not is to know them. To get to know them, and then make an estimation of their chances to succumb to temptation. My impression of Irvin is of someone who has been tested and passed through the fire already, and so his chances are better than most who have never been tested. I know, Art, you are saying this is a new test, and you are correct, but my point stands. He has matured. I think he has worked his ass off for five years since his turnaround. Five years is plenty of time and opportunity to fall, and his one black mark is a very slight minor transgression for which he was adjudicated and then unpunished. 

    My early impression of him is great. He is self aware, and mature. He enjoys life and has a great sense of humor and if playful. I really think he will be a big hit in Seattle. I worry very little about his character. 

    • Artthiel

      Carroll knows him, which counts for something, and yes, he has grown up. But success is such a hard thing to manage for someone with no grounding in it. Hell, it’s hard to manage even when you’re surrounded by it. Ask Bernie Madoff. He is saying all the right things, and the Seahawks will coach him to keep doing it, but when no one is looking, he’ll face the crucible, and there’s no track record yet of what he will do.
      But hey, every player has risks. This one will be high-maintenance. 

      • wabubba67

        Are you aware of any organizations in any sport hiring, in essence, an adult baby sitter for a kid in Irvin’s situation?  A guy that is paid to live with, cook for, provide supervision and transportation for an athlete until he has seemingly adapted well to his surroundings.  With the millions invested in athletes (along with the reputations of GMs and Head Coaches), it seems paying someone an additional $100,000 to fill this role and ensure the success of that investment would be reasonable.

  • Bayviewherb

    f I remember clorrectly, Winslow II was a trouble maker with a rap sheet.

  • Hawk_Eye

    Low Risk, High Reward. Winslow for a 7th round draft choice! Great Trade!

  • Jimc

    I very much dislike winslow, and his father. 

    • Keenpak

      Father was a great player, son is a bargain for a 7th rounder. Do we want to go back to the Ruskell days of only signing choirboys?

  • jafabian

    Not a fan of Winslow Sr. when he forbid his son to play for the Huskies.  At least Jr. didn’t go to his alma mater like his dad wanted.  Not really understanding the need to get Winslow though.  IMO, there’s bigger needs on the team though they didn’t give up much for him.  However if the Bucs were willing to take such a low draft pick means they wanted to get rid of him and Winslow doesn’t have the best off-field reputations.  Lot of potential there to be like Jerramy Stevens.

    • Keenpak

      Jerramy Stevens had substance abuse issues. No such problem with Winslow. No comparison really. Look at their production. Politely I’d say that it’s time to get over the Husky snub.

  • Michael Kaiser

    LSU 42–UW 14 (And I started out giving LSU 49).  

  • Dawgboner

    I’m a Dawg alum from the Sixkiller years.  I’ve seen a lot of head coaches come and go since then, some good, some dreadful.  I have lost confidence in Coach Snark at this point.  Frankly, he is all talk and very little action.  How much longer the largely passive Dawg fans and inert local yokel sports media hacks will be complicit in this ongoing charade remains to be seen.  I don’t expect anything better than a 4 – 8 record this season, and after tomorrow nite’s blow-out in Swamp Country….we’ll be lucky if half  our under-sized starters aren’t flown home in a MASH unit helio.


  • Pixeldawg13

    I’m sorry, Art–now you’re sounding like that woman at the Times who wrote the idiotic, ill-informed, and badly done editorial about the UW’s policy.

    I notice also that you don’t mention the Pac-12 coach for whom the word ‘injury’ doesn’t seem to exist. But then, for him, neither does the concept ‘players misbehave and should be disciplined for it.’ After all, it’s perfectly normal to drive 140+ on the freeways in a “borrowed” rental car while smoking it all, right? Just boys being boys. Or so Chip would have it.

    If none of the UW’s next three opponents (Stanford, Oregon, USC) report or talk about injuries, what’s your problem with UW taking the same stance? You give the impression of a little boy who had his favorite toy taken away.

    And I’m sorry, but “Truth be told — not that the Huskies would go that far –” is in the slanderous area, and I’ve always thought you were above such tactics. I wonder what Royal would think. Remember Royal? My late mother certainly did, after all the years she worked at the P-I. Shame on you.