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It appears NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is not a fan of the hit HBO show Ballers.
In an interview Friday on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, the series’ executive producer, Mark Wahlberg, said he got a call from Goodell and even a few NFL team owners who criticized the show, which begins its second season on Sunday.
“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,” Wahlberg said. He did not explain what “this” was exactly.
The Oscar-nominated actor said he tried to explain to Goodell that while Ballers is gritty, the show tries to be as realistic as possible, which means showing the downside of being a famous athlete. That aspect may actually be good for some young pros to see, Wahlberg says he told Goodell. Still, that also means Ballers shows fights, drug use and infidelity.
However, a spokeswoman for the NFL tweeted on Sunday that the call never took place.
“It makes for a nice story but this call from @nflcommish never happened,” tweeted Natalie Ravitz, spokeswoman for the league.
— Natalie Ravitz (@NFLNatalie) July 17, 2016
Ballers stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Rob Corddry, who are a duo of financial managers for NFL players. Some actual players made cameos in the first season and more will appear in the second, akin to the same way celebrities dropped by Wahlberg’s other previous hit HBO show, Entourage.
“We’re privileged to get in the real story,” said Wahlberg. “We want to make sure the key is to make it as authentic as possible no matter how outrageous it gets. We always surround ourselves with real guys. Because the show is so accurate, that’s why you get guys like Ndamukong Suh … Terrell Suggs is on the show as well this year … Jarvis Landry … you got a lot of guys and not to mention countless [New England] Patriots. I can’t say who it is or what they’re doing yet because it’s a surprise and I don’t want to spoil the finale, but guys know that we make sure that we make it real.”
July 17, 2 p.m.: This story has been updated with a comment from an NFL spokeswoman.
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