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HBO to launch fictional football series

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It’s been more than a decade since ESPN pulled the plug on Playmakers, at the behest of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Another network that doesn’t televise NFL games is going to give it another try.

According to, HBO has picked up the series Ballers, which explores the lives of a group of former and current football players.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in the series, and he serves as executive producer with Mark Wahlberg.

The series also marks the acting debut of John David Washington, the son of Denzel Washington and a former football player who spent time with the Rams, but who never placed in a regular-season game.  John David Washington also played in NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva and the UFL.

The show begins production later this year.

Of course, HBO has been the long-time home of Hard Knocks.  If the league doesn’t react favorably to Ballers, HBO may have to choose between the two shows.

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67 Responses to “HBO to launch fictional football series”
  1. mhohmann says: Feb 13, 2014 10:37 PM

    Good. HBO won’t be pushed around like ESPN.

  2. rajbais says: Feb 13, 2014 10:38 PM

    HBO is not going to get flack like how ESPN did because it pays the NFL no money to air their games.

  3. minnesotablizzard says: Feb 13, 2014 10:41 PM

    Here is to hoping they make the show real and gnarled like “Playmakers” was. The rest of what is on TV today football wise is repetitive and pointless. With HBO hosting, I have high hopes.

  4. winninaintsinnin says: Feb 13, 2014 10:41 PM

    Fictional football?

    Why pay for HBO?

    Just tune in a Pittsburgh game.

  5. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 13, 2014 10:44 PM

    The series builds to a climax when the Browns face off with the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

  6. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 13, 2014 10:44 PM

    Then Dalton would be perfect for this series, as he’s been pretending to be a QB for years.

  7. ottawabrave91 says: Feb 13, 2014 10:45 PM

    Hey can former NAIA division 2 players like myself make it in NFL Whateva?

  8. tomtravis76 says: Feb 13, 2014 10:45 PM

    How will it ever surpass 1st and ten? Oj even had a dream sequence in which he killed his white wife with a knife. joke.

  9. dmvtransplant says: Feb 13, 2014 10:49 PM

    Well if HBO shows the following the show is over:

    1. A gay player

    2. A wife beater

    3. A drug addict

    4. A racist and ignorant owner

    5. Players as wife cheaters

    6. Players blowing all their money

    7. Players that can barely read, despite going to college

    8. A player involved in a murder case

    Playmakers did all these things and the NFL took them down. On the plus side there wasn’t an episode about Dog Fighting or a Tim Tebow like character

  10. realnflmaster says: Feb 13, 2014 10:50 PM

    I’d rather watch a Browns vs Bills game than this show.

  11. tonyugoh says: Feb 13, 2014 10:54 PM

    So a True Detective of the NFL? That sounds awesome

  12. jshawaii22 says: Feb 13, 2014 10:55 PM

    As long as Vince McMahon is not co-producing it, it might be OK.

    Having it on HBO is a big bonus.


  13. rickrenteria says: Feb 13, 2014 10:59 PM

    Apparently no one remembers one of the original HBO series’ called ‘1st & Ten’ starring the great Shannon Tweed and a young up and coming actor named Orenthal James Simpson.

  14. kingpel says: Feb 13, 2014 11:04 PM

    Can’t be better than First and Ten.

  15. packers7baller7shotcaller says: Feb 13, 2014 11:10 PM

    for a real “ballers” program

    no need to look any further than the mighty green bay packers

    they should follow around all of our players and call it a show

    because it would probably be HBO’s top show.

    (don’t hate bros)

    ‘dis your boy, packers baller shot caller

    peace y’all (deuces)

  16. ctiggs says: Feb 13, 2014 11:10 PM

    playmakers was a great show . My girlfriend at the time hated football, but she never missed a minute of that show.

  17. shaggytoodle says: Feb 13, 2014 11:12 PM

    It can’t be any worse than ESPNs attempt at it.

    That show was one of the worse in TV history.

  18. bigjim50010 says: Feb 13, 2014 11:16 PM

    Will it be about the Dynasty franchise known as the Minnesota Vikings, winners of 4 consecutive Superbowls?

    Because it is fictional…

  19. hehateme1 says: Feb 13, 2014 11:19 PM

    Playmakers was awesome.

  20. vprkilr says: Feb 13, 2014 11:27 PM

    Josh Freeman should be casted as a QB too!

  21. twoticketstoparadise20 says: Feb 13, 2014 11:29 PM

    Don’t forget Delta Burke and the Tooz.

  22. therealraider says: Feb 13, 2014 11:34 PM

    John David Washington also played in NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva and the UFL.


    “Whateva” .. That’s hilarious, nobody gave a crap about NFL Europe. LOL

  23. rodgray39 says: Feb 13, 2014 11:35 PM

    Am I the only old enough to remember ‘1st and 10’ w/ OJ and Delta Burke???

  24. sportsmeccabi says: Feb 13, 2014 11:37 PM

    Will someone please continue Blue Mountain State.

  25. huskerguy says: Feb 13, 2014 11:53 PM

    Instead of “winter is coming” it will be “fall is coming”

  26. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 14, 2014 12:01 AM

    Fantastic, we need a lot more football TV programs, keep ’em coming.

  27. The League's Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Feb 14, 2014 12:14 AM

    We win Supers Bowls.

  28. meatcarroll says: Feb 14, 2014 12:25 AM

    Why pay for HBO? We already witnessed Colon Krapperchoke be a RB masquerading as a WR for most of the last 2 seasons!

  29. eatitfanboy says: Feb 14, 2014 12:26 AM

    The ESPN series was ridiculous. It was poorly produced, amateurish and stupid.

    It was completely over the top. It had every controversial negative thing that had ever happened in an NFL locker room happening to one team in one season. I remember an episode where a player was smoking PCP on the way to a game. I mean, really?

    To this day, you won’t convince me that ESPN didn’t use NFL “pressure” ask an excuse to cancel a terrible show with horrible ratings. I’m not saying the NFL didn’t register it’s objections, but I think the show would have gone away anyway on it’s own (lack of) merits.

  30. maxbelmont says: Feb 14, 2014 12:48 AM

    Don’t forget that former Raider John Matuszak was in a few episodes, Lawrence Taylor played Tombstone Packer, Warren Moon played a FBI agent, and Kevin Greene played Michael Conner.

  31. commonsensedude says: Feb 14, 2014 12:49 AM

    Are you saying we finally can watch a pro football league that Roger Goodell can’t ruin? Sign me up!!

  32. steeltuff says: Feb 14, 2014 12:50 AM

    The opening scene starts with a player who has 50 grand stolen from the front seat of his car.

  33. donschmidt72 says: Feb 14, 2014 12:53 AM

    Good news Jets fans!! This is your chance to win a super bowl!!! Rex is just giddy over the news of this fictional show!! Since it’s fictional Sanchez is going to be a BALLER!!!

  34. joro5551 says: Feb 14, 2014 1:04 AM

    It’s a good idea. Honestly I wish someone other than NFL network just replayed NFL games throughout the slow season. I may be in minority but being in the NFC North market I’d love to catch some of the South or East games I missed throughout the year. I’m a football nerd though.

  35. qdog112 says: Feb 14, 2014 1:10 AM

    If it’s anything close to real, the NFL will kill it.

  36. culturalelitist says: Feb 14, 2014 1:42 AM

    You had me until “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stars in the series.” He’s a corporate movie star and the series will reflect that. Too bad. If someone like David Chase or Aaron Sorkin took on the world of pro football, it would be riveting.

  37. cardmagnet says: Feb 14, 2014 2:23 AM

    They should have purchased the rights to and resurrected Blue Mountain State. A nice pro level spin-off with Thad Castle would have been excellent.

  38. seaeagle707 says: Feb 14, 2014 2:47 AM

    Fictional football you say. Undoubtedly its all about the Vikings and their Super Bowl dynasty. The team name will no doubt be changed, but we’ll all know what team inspired it.

    Stop Purple!!!

  39. i10east says: Feb 14, 2014 2:50 AM

    Tags was still a far better commish than the one we have now.

  40. TheWizard says: Feb 14, 2014 3:06 AM

    Playmakers would have survived if it hadn’t focused on the negative 100% of the time.

  41. gettingpwned says: Feb 14, 2014 3:19 AM

    Hbo doesn’t need the nfl like espn does. Good for hbo!

  42. silverhornet says: Feb 14, 2014 3:58 AM

    The name of the show is more akin to basketball than football though.

  43. lostsok says: Feb 14, 2014 5:23 AM

    They should do a show based on Peter Gent’s The Franchise. With apologizes to his better know work, it’s the best football novel ever written.

  44. SparkyGump says: Feb 14, 2014 5:54 AM

    Who’s going to play the drunken, delusional owner who has lost touch with reality but is really good at filling up his oversized stadium?

  45. securb2013 says: Feb 14, 2014 5:55 AM

    The last time HBO did a football series, 1st and 10, it was pretty good. I will definitely give it a try.

  46. JackedUpSports says: Feb 14, 2014 6:18 AM

    i’d be impressed if it’s better than hard knocks

  47. patsfan112 says: Feb 14, 2014 6:52 AM

    But who will the show’s main QB be inspired by – Brady or Peyton? I’m guessing Brady since Brady’s got the whole Cinderella-story thing going on (rags to riches that Hollywood seems to love) and Peyton was from football royalty.

  48. roadtrip3500 says: Feb 14, 2014 7:02 AM

    Or, HBO could just re-air “1st and Ten” from the mid-80s… that would probably be more entertaining.

  49. tooz72 says: Feb 14, 2014 7:19 AM

    its not tv, it’s hbo

  50. toonloonboon says: Feb 14, 2014 7:25 AM

    it is entitled How The Browns won the Super Bowl

  51. daddyb1gdrawz says: Feb 14, 2014 7:49 AM

    I will certainly watch it. Marky Mark certainly knows a thing or two about directing shows i.e Entourage

  52. bucrightoff says: Feb 14, 2014 8:10 AM

    The NFL hated Playmakers because it was a pretty accurate portrayal. Since this is HBO, the NFL will hate it even more because it will probably be even more accurate,

  53. firstand4ever says: Feb 14, 2014 8:23 AM

    Sounds like “Entourage” for the sports world.

  54. theworkhorsebackdotcom says: Feb 14, 2014 8:41 AM

    It can’t be worse than ‘The Game’.

    No love for Friday Night Lights?

  55. titansbro says: Feb 14, 2014 8:46 AM

    Um this sounds awesome. And since HBO is doing it it will be rough & raw. My favorite shows are almost all on HBO. They should hire the producers/directors/writers/whoever of The Wire as consultants on how to make gritty, awesome show.

  56. EJ says: Feb 14, 2014 9:02 AM

    Wahlberg did a damn good job with Entourage, so I’d be surprised to see anything less from this.
    If he has full control of the show, there is no doubt in my mind that this will be Epic. Dwayne
    Johnson is a good actor and definitely can pass for the part. Can’t Wait.

  57. haywoodjablomee says: Feb 14, 2014 9:09 AM

    Hope it’s better than HBO’s “First and Ten” that aired eons ago.

  58. rcali says: Feb 14, 2014 9:13 AM

    Uh oh Roger, hasn’t been a great decade for off the field stuff. Felons, murderers, spying, coaches stealing pain killers and selling them, owners scamming clients in their other businesses, selling fake super bowl seats. Considering those are just a few topics to cover this series will have some legs. I have a feeling Hard Knocks will be moving to another channel.

  59. tommynatorii says: Feb 14, 2014 9:19 AM

    I will not follow ANY series where the son or daughter of a famous actor is the star. Sorry.
    Hollywood nepotism.
    Will Smith has a daughter who made popular. He has a son who cannot act, and tweets the weirdest stuff. How’d “After Earth go?”
    Why not give a guy possibly from a poor background the chance to star?
    Lost me.

  60. oldbyrd says: Feb 14, 2014 9:42 AM

    Excellent…HBO does almost everything well!

  61. weepingjebus says: Feb 14, 2014 9:43 AM

    Will it be fictional in the sense that tackling and QB sacks are still permitted?

  62. puntonfirstdown says: Feb 14, 2014 9:49 AM

    A show about a fictional team. They could name it “The Cleveland Browns.”

  63. seatownballers says: Feb 14, 2014 9:49 AM

    The only way the Vikings will ever win a super bowl is on HBO

  64. outlawjerseywhales says: Feb 14, 2014 10:09 AM

    J.D. Washington never placed in a regular-season game?
    Perhaps he should have become a racehorse, instead.

  65. justchuckn says: Feb 14, 2014 10:48 AM

    remember that children’s movie about the football player with the illegitimate child that the rock played in. Yea that was terrible

  66. snowboardinganteater says: Feb 14, 2014 11:09 AM

    Please HBO, bring back 1st & 10!!!

  67. nuclearwarfare says: Feb 14, 2014 4:36 PM


    Two AFC teams in the Super Bowl?

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