There’s a long history of the NFL fighting certain portrayals of the league in film and television, from the NFL-instigated (and Chris Berman-supported) cancellation of ESPN’s Playmakers to the wars over League of Denial and Concussion. Despite a much different and much less concerning approach, it appears that HBO’s Ballers has still managed to pique the league’s ire, with Ballers executive producer Mark Wahlberg telling Dan Patrick Friday that the NFL was highly critical of the show early on:
Here’s a transcription of Wahlberg’s comments:
“I remember [director] Pete Berg calling me saying we have to get on the phone with Roger Goodell. … The first calls we were getting were from the higher ups in the NFL talking about how they didn’t like the show. But thankfully Concussion came out and took all that attention away from us. And then we just continued to ask Roger Goodell to make a cameo on the show, I think he’d do a great job. But no such luck.”
So, as the NFL diverted its PR apparatus to fighting Concussion, Ballers became a little lower on the radar. As AA’s Ian Casselberry noted last year, though, the show hasn’t been particularly critical of the NFL, so targeting it at all feels like an odd fit, and perhaps just one more indication of the league’s need to control the message.
The Dan Patrick Show airs from 9 to noon Eastern Monday through Friday on Audience, NBCSN and radio affiliates.
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