The real-life ballers on ‘Ballers’
The first 17 NFL stars you’ll see — and we’ll keep adding to this list
By now, you’ve seen that this season of HBO’s Ballers is going to focus on a rift between lead character Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Baltimore Raven outside linebacker Terrell Suggs — at least in part. The reality TV-esque storyline is fiction reflecting real life. Early last season, Suggs suffered a torn Achilles tendon, which sidelined him for the rest of the year, and on Ballers he’s nursing an injury with a desire to get back on the field. Because the show is about what happens off the field, behind the scenes and inside the steamy, no-cellphones-allowed champagne rooms, and because it, quite frankly, stars one of the world’s biggest movie stars, it’s fairly easy to attract some of the biggest names in the National Football League.
Executive producer Mark Wahlberg recently said that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and various league owners tried to block cameos by NFL players on the show in the first season. The NFL has denied it. But, as they say, the show goes on. Producers for Ballers are keeping some future NFL guest stars under wraps — they’ll blow big surprises and plot twists if they leak anything — but here’s most of who we’ll see on the show. Any guesses as to what their storylines might be?
The former defensive tackle (San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears) has a natural flair for dramatics: He announced his retirement on YouTube on March 24, 2013. He’ll fit right in.
No shocker that there’s a New England Patriots defensive end guest-starring on the show this season. Wahlberg is a well-known super Pats fan. Wahlberg also has teased that “countless Patriots” will be on this season, but said if he mentions who they are, it will spoil the finale.
The legendary Miami Dolphins center was a member of the 1998 Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class. In college, he played for legendary University of Alabama coach Bear Bryant, who said Stephenson was the best player he ever coached, regardless of position.
The wide receiver (most recently a member of the Miami Dolphins) was dropped in March to free up salary cap space. Might his free agency be a plot point on Ballers?
We saw the defensive end in the inaugural shows and he’ll be returning this season. Maybe he’ll dance — as a Miami Dolphin, he performed the Pee-Wee Herman Dance after recording a sack. Here for it.
The Dolphins wide receiver and punt returner is an NFL record holder for nabbing 194 receptions in his first two seasons. But he’s also a skilled end zone performer. Sounds like we need a good old-fashioned Ballers dance-off.
The retired defensive end and linebacker was featured in the first episode of the second season signing autographs at a car dealership, but perhaps he’ll pop up again. He clearly enjoys life off the gridiron — he made it to the finals in the sixth season of Dancing With The Stars. Guys. This is a theme. Have them dance, already.
Honorable mention here for the Fox Sports personality. He was featured in the first season of Ballers and has already returned for season two: A rather rambunctious interview happens between Suggs and Johnson as Strasmore.
The outside linebacker showed up in season one and returns this season. Maybe the Super Bowl-winning free agent will discuss his next career moves?
The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver is about to enter his rookie year. Maybe he’ll link up with Strasmore early to get his financial game on the right path?
The fullback and Pro Football Hall of Famer has two Super Bowl championships under his belt. Maybe, if his storyline is juicy enough, he can add a few more accolades to his trophy case?
The ESPN personality and former player was featured in season one and he’s back this season. Perhaps he’ll discuss his former life as an NFL guard for the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos — or maybe he’ll work with some current NFL players as they try to transition into broadcasting. He’s also acted before with stints on The Guiding Light and also the Red Dawn remake.
The Dolphins defensive tackle opened this second season by toasting a new Miami restaurant called Suh Casa that Strasmore, as his wealth manager, helped him launch.
The rookie linebacker is starting his professional career out on the right note — he’s yet to make his first professional hit for the Cleveland Browns, but he’s already picking up an acting credit. Not bad.
The New Orleans Saints coach is trying to sign one of the biggest free agents in the game on Ballers, and he pulls out all the stops — a second-line band greets the fictional ballplayer at a private jet.
Suggs is here to stay this season. He’s featured in several episodes — no spoilers! But we can reveal that he’s about figuring out smart moves for what his life might look like off the field.
The wide receiver played only half of last season. The year before, he had concussion symptoms. So maybe checking out Hollywood is a good next move? Given the way things tend to play out on Ballers, surely Welker’s real-life circumstance will be addressed.