Current Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown and former Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall were both a part of the opening season of Ballers, HBO's new T.V. series about life in professional football. The show will star Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson, who is also producing the show with fellow actor Mark Whalberg. Peter Berg, who director the movie and later developed the T.V. show Friday Night Lights, directed the pilot and will be an executive producer.
Brown appears for about a second in the show's official trailer, which will air on HBO on June 21st.
Mendenhall, who spent five seasons with the Steelers and an additional season in Arizona, moved to Los Angeles and became a full member of the Writer's Guild upon his retirement from the NFL in March of 2014. He said he kept tabs on the Steelers, Cardinals and the Bears-his hometown team- this past season along with following his favorite running backs. Mendenhall said that while his transition out of the NFL was initially tough, he's found his niche in writing, specifically about his role on HBO's new series about professional football.
"I've always known I wanted to write. It was always a passion of mine — it was peace, a getaway. It was also, even while I was playing, it was kind of an artist mentality," Mendenhall said in Lindsay H. Jones's story on usatoday.com. "You have a day job, but the art that you're working on is what you really want to do. While I was playing football, it was like I always had known that I would play til it was complete, but apart from that, I always wrote and developed my writing. I knew that when I was done playing, that's what I was going to do. It was kind of always a thing behind (football), I just didn't know what to what extent in television or see how it was going to shape up. ... I jumped right into something, and it was really cool and enjoyable, because writing was something that I always enjoyed and coincidentally (the HBO show) had to do with football — something that I loved. It was a really natural and cool and beautiful thing to be a part of."
The show looks to be similar to the 2000 movie Any Given Sunday and ESPN's controversial series Playmakers, which lasted just one season before being cancelled after its lone season which aired in the Fall of 2003. The show was criticized for being too edgy at the time, but given the new graphic television era that exists today, and considering the current popularity of the NFL, it would be no surprise if Brown and Mendenhall are a part of one of the most popular T.V. show of the upcoming summer.