HBO’s scripted comedy ‘Ballers’ gives viewers a glimpse at life for players in professional football players and those who have hung up their cleats. It follows Spencer Strasmore (played by Dwayne Johnson), a former superstar, as he maneuvers through retirement, while mentoring other players through football’s daily grind. The show prides itself on getting things right — with several current and former NFL players making cameos, including Steven Jackson, Antonio Brown, DeSean Jackson, Terrell Suggs, Don Shula and Larry Csonka. More cameos are to come in the second season, which debuts Sunday, with Suggs, Ndamukong Suh and Jarvis Landry.
Unsurprisingly, higher-ups at the NFL, nicknamed by critics as the “No Fun League,” aren’t big fans of the show.
One of the executive producers, Mark Wahlberg, took to ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” on Friday to discuss the upcoming season and he said Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to stop the cameos.
“The first season of the show, the only call that I was getting was from guys like Roger Goodell saying ‘you can’t do this,’ and various owners in the league,” Wahlberg said. “And we’re saying is it’s actually a good thing for the league and for the players because hopefully you get the word out there with the crazy stuff and the financial side of it, we’ll hopefully get these guys to realize they gotta be more careful with what they do with their money.”
Wahlberg didn’t want the show to portray the league in a false light. Having current and former NFL players on the show helps give it substance and authenticity.
“We’re privileged to get in the real story,” Wahlberg said. We want to make sure the key is to make it as authentic as possible no matter how outrageous it gets. We always surround ourselves with real guys. Because the show is so accurate, that’s why you get guys like Ndamukong Suh, Terrell Suggs is on the show as well this year, Jarvis Landry, you got a lot of guys and not to mention countless Patriots. I can’t say who it is or what they’re doing yet because it’s a surprise and I don’t want to spoil the finale, but guys know that we make sure that we make it real.”
Natalie Ravetz, the Senior Vice President of Communications for the NFL, told The Post that the phone call never occurred, and declined to further comment.