Mark Wahlberg went on ESPN’s Mike and Mike last Friday to speak about the making of HBO’s Ballers. The show stars Dwayne Johnson as sports-manager Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL linebacker who has taken a job at a wealth management firm. Spencer makes sure his NFL-star clients invest their hard-earned salaries wisely, rather than burning all of their money on cars and parties during their playing years and being left with nothing upon retirement. Ballers Executive Producer Mark Wahlberg, as expected, spoke about keeping the series as truthful as possible to the crazy world or sports superstars and sports-management, as well as his continued refutation of any Tom Brady wrongdoing in the ‘deflate gate’ scandal.
However, Wahlberg also gave some insider news about the making of the first season of the show, including calls by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and multiple NFL team owners criticizing Ballers. Wahlberg, speaking to Mike and Mike, commented: “The first season of the show, the only calls I was getting were from guys like Roger Goodell saying, ‘You can’t do this,’ and various owners in the league, too”. “This” is not clarified, but Wahlberg could be referring to cameos by actual NFL players on the HBO series. The NFL has a reputation among players for being the “No Fun League,” due to regulations ranging from excessive celebration after touchdowns to limiting media presence outside of the league’s direct control and benefit.
It is likely that the appearance of actual NFL players on Ballers, such as repeated cameos by Miami Dolphins superstar Ndamukong Suh, have rubbed Roger Goodell and the NFL the wrong way. Goodell is infamous for exacting complete control over his league, as detailed by a New York Times article published this past April. He is also a staunch promoter of the NFL’s clean, professional look. Ballers, while not portraying the NFL in a negative light, does show players partying and engaging in general debauchery on a regular basis. It is to be expected that Goodell and certain team owners are opposed to this portrayal of the NFL lifestyle, and will do all within their power to keep players from appearing on the hit HBO series.
For the record, as reporter by the Washington Post, the NFL recently released a statement denying any call from Commissioner Goodell to Mark Wahlberg.
Ballers, which had its season premiere on July 17, airs on HBO at 10PM Sunday.