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.

67 responses to “HBO to launch fictional football series

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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

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

    Having it on HBO is a big bonus.


  5. 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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

  12. 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!!!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!!!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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,

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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

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