As an ex-NFL running back who’s been there and lived that lifestyle, former Steeler Rashard Mendenhall naturally makes an ideal fit in his current role as a staff writer on the new HBO series, “Ballers”, which features Dwayne Johnson, known by most as “The Rock” who portrays a retired football player-turned financial adviser to current players.
Mendenhall obviously has keen literary skills, as evidenced by his retirement essay, which was published in the Huffington Post. Many fans, including myself, scratched our heads and wondered why a runner with the total package of size, speed, vision and balance who often frustrated by dancing behind the line of scrimmage, would walk away from the game after only six seasons.
After seeing the essay, Mendenhall got an incoming flood of inquiries from book publishers but his ears perked up a bit when he was reached out to by HBO. Their pitch featured working with stars like Johnson and Mark Wahlberg, but still Mendenhall was iffy, considering the plot featured a behind the scenes look at the life of an NFL’er.
Of course, as fans have seen, Mendenhall spilled the beans a bit regarding partying done by players, including the alleged mannerisms of his former teammate, Ben Roethlisberger.
Initially, HBO offered Mendenhall a three week contract, and with it, he had the mindset of a football player, knowing full well that may be it, and he could be released by the network at a moment’s notice. One of his first tasks was giving advice on young millionaires tendencies off the field.
During a scene at a night club where players were conversing about the female anatomy, Mendenhall offered his two cents to the co-writers and after that, he was brought on for the rest of the season.
“That doesn’t feel natural — they’d be talking about her butt,” he said, according to Men’s Journal.
A number of ex-teammates and current players commonly stop by the set to check out Rashard’s new calling, including a former rival of his who is somewhat envious.
“I always wanted to make movies,” said Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens, who spent a week on the set. “I’m definitely gonna pick Rashard’s brain about the business.”
It all really hit home for Mendenhall that he didn’t miss the NFL lifestyle during a Sunday last fall, where he was trapped in an endless caravan of Chicago traffic migrating to the Bears’ game.
“Not for a second did I feel like I wanted to be back out there,” Mendenhall said. “I already lived that. It was complete for me.”
One of the executive producers of “Ballers”, Evan Reilly, agrees, and he’s glad to Mendenhall’s expertise on-board.
“Rashard just had a different point of view than other players we talked to,” Reilly. said, according to Men’s Journal. “He’s so thoughtful and introspective and curious, and he’s got real creativity.”
Perhaps this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Mendenhall’s showtime endeavors.