HBO Orders Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Football Show ‘Ballers’ to Series

Published 1 year ago by

ballers gets series order HBO Orders Dwayne The Rock Johnson Football Show Ballers to Series

HBO is ready for some football and they’re turning to Dwayne Johnson to get their fix, giving the Pain and Gain star’s half-hour concept, Ballers, a series order. The show (which is unrelated to the LeBron James/Kevin Hart film of the same name) will be executive produced by Johnson, Mark Wahlberg (who produced Entourage), Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), Evan Reilly, Steve Levinson, Dany Garcia, and Hiram Garcia, and will center on a group of active and retired football players in Miami with Johnson set to star as one of the ex-players.

Lining up beside Johnson – who played college football before joining pro wrestling as The Rock – will be Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine), Omar Benson Miller (who played a football player in The Express), Troy Garity, and former college football players John David Washington (son of Denzel) and Donovan Carter.

Obviously, with that many former football players in the cast, on-field authenticity shouldn’t be a problem. But the question is, will that authenticity extend to the storylines, or will the show exercise a light touch when it comes to dealing with some of the controversial issues that have popped up around professional football over the years (like head injuries and locker room bullying)?

ballers gets series order playmakers HBO Orders Dwayne The Rock Johnson Football Show Ballers to Series

It’s also worth wondering if HBO would be comfortable with a show shining a light on football’s warts, considering the network has a relationship with the NFL thanks to the Hard Knocks documentary series.

Back in 2004, ESPN (which has a longstanding relationship with the NFL) pulled the plug on Playmakers, a drama series that took a hard look at the lives of pro football players. The reason? According to ESPN’s executive vice president Mark Shapiro, ESPN was “not in the business of antagonizing our partner.”

Could something similar happen with Ballers? It doesn’t seem terribly likely in that this is a different network – one whose focus is on scripted programming and not sports – at a different time with a different leadership team running the NFL, but still, the Playmakers situation is an interesting thing to recall as Ballers makes its way to the small screen.

Here’s another point to ponder: while critics and some fans will look for this show to be unflinching with regard to the aforementioned issues, Ballers is also going to likely be aimed at football fans, many of whom may not want to be constantly reminded about the consequences that can come from the game’s punishing physicality. That means that the show also can’t be perceived as being too negative or joyless.

Clearly, Ballers is going to have to walk a line between fiction and reality, showcasing both the good and the bad of a game that has a lot of support and a few dirty secrets. If done right, it could be quite a series. But if it veers to close to melodrama or sitcom-y hijinks, don’t be surprised if Ballers gets sacked.


Ballers doesn’t yet have a premiere date, but keep an eye on Screen Rant for any future news about the series.

Source: The Wrap, The New York Times

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
TAGS: Ballers
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  1. Well if that’s the case they should put it on a network without a conflict of interest with the NFL which tries to do anything to save its image and keep it clean. Maybe Showtime or go to Netflix because what’s the point if you’re just going to limit yourself?

    • exactly…it will just muzzle the show NFL has no shame

    • I’m not a screenwriter, but if I were to make a show. I would love write something in the same vein as Playmakers. But, back to your statement. If a show like Playmakers were to be made it would probably have to be on Netflix, AMC or maybe Starz. Showtime is owned by CBS, both channels air NFL games(CBS) or related content(Showtime has a weekly NFL analyst show) . Also, FX couldn’t or wouldn’t air something like Playmakers since they are own by FOX.

  2. That wild-eyed picture of Johnson up at the top of the article looks like he was just kicked in the Bal—oh, never mind.

  3. Well, he has history with head injuries and locker room bullying in pro wrestling too (I’ve heard and read many horror stories about bullying, especially in Japan where pro wrestling is considered a legit sport, plus the concussion issue has been addressed since 2010 in the business too and taken a lot more seriously than they used to be) so he’s the perfect guy to cast, even if you ignore his star rising in the past few years in Hollywood.

  4. Playmakers was awesome for the short time it was on so I’m hopeful that this will be similar. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that most fans of the game recognize the danger as well as the off-field issues, especially lately with Michael Sam being the first openly homosexual Draft prospect, Riley Cooper apparently being a racist in Philly of all places, Jonathon Martin being bullied in Miami, constant struggles of players and the law (Hernandez, Vick, Burress, etc.) and the current on-going legal issues with concussion problems between the NFL and former players. As most of these things are crammed down our throats on an hourly basis by ESPN, I don’t think it’s as much of fans not wanting to hear about it as you suggest as it is them being tired of constantly hearing about it. Nonetheless, an inside look into the mysterious NFL locker rooms and the personal life of professional athletes has always and always will be of interest to the fans, so I think the show will do well.

  5. I’ll wait & see. Sounds to me like more football controversial entertainment just being controversial for the sake of it. The Rock should focus more on doing better films.

    • Yeah, like playing John Stewart/Green Lantern in Batman vs Superman