Of the NFL teams whose names and logos are used in the upcoming HBO series Ballers, the Dolphins’ names and logos appear most prominently. But like the league, the Dolphins no comment on the matter.
“HBO is always mindful of other intellectual property owners, but in this context there is no legal requirement to obtain their consent,” an HBO spokesman told PFT on Sunday.
On Monday night, the Dolphins informed PFT that the team has no comment at this time.
In the show, four episodes of which PFT has gotten an advance look at, the Dolphins appears prominently in both name and logo, from the opening scene onward. In the pilot, a character named Ricky Jerret (played by John David Washington, Denzel’s son) is cut by the Packers and signed by the Dolphins. Several scenes in later episodes depict Dolphins practices, including a locker-room fight between two teammates.
Apart from the question of whether HBO can legally use NFL team names and logos is the question of whether HBO wants to jeopardize its relationship with the NFL via the Hard Knocks series. Depending on the specific language of the HBO-NFL contract, the league could characterize the conduct as a breach of the license provided by the NFL to use team names and logos on the air. At a minimum, the NFL could be less inclined to renew the relationship with HBO once the contract expires, shifting the series to another network, like CBS-owned Showtime.
Look for the issue to stay under the radar until Ballers premieres in 13 days. By then, chances are the NFL, the Dolphins, or both will have something to say.