Tom Brady is ready for some football closeups.
The New England Patriots quarterback will vie for the bright lights, more endorsements, and, oh, yeah, another silver trophy thing, in Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI against Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
In a piece originally published at the start of the season, we look at other gridiron guys who won games—and prime-time fame:
1. Jerry Rice: The long and lean Hall of Fame receiver was the first NFLer to suit up for Dancing With the Stars, and, thanks to his surprising second-place finish in season two, he was not the last. Rice made the ballroom a leading destination for players looking to show off their moves, minus the pads.
2. Joe Namath: "Broadway Joe" was bigger than the New York Jets. He was bigger than a guest appearance on The Brady Bunch. He was bigger than his network sitcom, The Waverly Wonders, which only lasted four episodes. Did O.J. Simspon make more and better movies? Had Jim Brown paved the road in Hollywood? Sure, but in the 1970s, Namath was a small-screen giant.
3. Peyton Manning: It's probably not going to be easy for the Indianapolis Colts legend, sidelined all season due to a neck injury, to watch his little brother and chief rival play on his field. If it gives the elder Manning comfort, he still owns both men outside the lines thanks to an A-plus comic reel from countless commercials, and a Saturday Night Live hosting stint that sacked Brady's.
4. Frey Dryer: Alex (Webster) Karras. Merlin (Father Murphy) Olsen. Ed (Hill Street Blues) Marinaro. The 1980s marked the heyday of the football player-turned-TV star: But if you could only pick one to exemplify the decade, then you'd have to pick the Los Angeles Rams vet who, on Hunter, nearly out-squinted Clint Eastwood.
5. Jesse Palmer: Even as far as Bachelor material goes, the one-time New York Giants quarterback was disappointingly noncommittal. But his 2004 stint was a game-changer for reality TV, which proved it could bag people with great jobs, and for jocks, who proved they could be romantic leading men (even if they weren't all that romantic).
(Originally published Sept. 8, 2011, at 5:55 a.m. )