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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?


Anthony Adams

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Anthony Adams (95) leaves the field dejected after his team's game against the New England Patriots. The Patriots defeated the Bears, 36-7, at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday, December 12, 2010.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Anthony Adams (No. 95) leaves the field dejected after his team’s game against the New England Patriots. The Patriots defeated the Bears, 36-7, at Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec, 12, 2010.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

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.

Chris Long

Chris Long #91 of the St. Louis Rams warms up before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome on December 11, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Chris Long, with his former team the St. Louis Rams, warms up before a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 11, 2014, in St. Louis.

Michael Thomas/Getty Images

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.

Dwight Stephenson

NFL Hall of Fame Inductee Dwight Stephenson poses during a press conference at the Mariott Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

NFL Hall of Fame inductee Dwight Stephenson poses during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles.

Elsa Hasch /Allsport

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.

Greg Jennings

Greg Jennings #85 of the Miami Dolphins looks on during practice at Nova Southeastern University on August 4, 2015 in Davie, Florida.

Greg Jennings of the Miami Dolphins looks on during practice at Nova Southeastern University on Aug. 4, 2015, in Davie, Florida.

Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

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?

Jared Odrick

Defensive tackle Jared Odrick #98 of the Miami Dolphins walks on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on November 13, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Defensive end Jared Odrick of the Miami Dolphins walks on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on Nov. 13, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Marc Serota/Getty Images

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.

Jarvis Landry

Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins looks on during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins looks on during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium on Dec. 27, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

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.

Jason Taylor

Former NFL linebacker Jason Taylor plays his second shot on the 15th hole during the pro-am for the the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 3, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Former NFL linebacker Jason Taylor plays his second shot on the 15th hole during the pro-am for the the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on Feb. 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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.

Jay Glazer

Sports Journalist Jay Glazer attends the HBO Ballers Season 2 Red Carpet Premiere and Reception on July 14, 2016 at New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida.

Sports journalist Jay Glazer attends HBO’s Ballers season two red carpet premiere and reception on July 14 at New World Symphony in Miami.

Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for HBO

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.

LaMarr Woodley

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the 49ers 47-7.

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the a game against the San Francisco 49ers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the 49ers, 47-7.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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?

Laquon Treadwell

Draftee Laquon Treadwell of Mississippi arrives to the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

Draftee Laquon Treadwell of Mississippi arrives to the 2016 NFL draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28 in Chicago.

Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images

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?

Larry Csonka

Running back Larry Csonka #39 of the Miami Dolphins watches the action from the sidelines circa mid 1970's during an NFL football game. Csonka played for the Dolphins from 1968-74 and 1979.

Running back Larry Csonka of the Miami Dolphins watches the action from the sidelines circa mid-1970s during an NFL football game. Csonka played for the Dolphins from 1968-74 and in 1979.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

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?

Mark Schlereth

Former Bronco, Mark Schlereth, is announced as the 1997 Broncos team is honored before the game. The Denver Broncos played the Green Bay Packers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, CO on November 1, 2015.

Former Denver Bronco Mark Schlereth is announced as the 1997 Broncos team is honored before the game. The Denver Broncos played the Green Bay Packers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on Nov. 1, 2015.

Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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.

Ndamukong Suh

Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions is on the field before the start of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.

Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions is on the field before the start of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 4, 2015, in Arlington, Texas.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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.

Scooby Wright

Linebacker Scooby Wright III #33 of the Arizona Wildcats during the college football game against the California Golden Bears at Arizona Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona.

Linebacker Scooby Wright III of the Arizona Wildcats during a college football game against the California Golden Bears at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 20, 2014, in Tucson, Arizona.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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.

Sean Payton

Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, 2010, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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.

Terrell Suggs

Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with fans after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17 in their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with fans after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-17, in their AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Heinz Field on Jan. 3, 2015, in Pittsburgh.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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.

Wes Welker

Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the New York Giants on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Wes Welker of the New England Patriots runs against the New York Giants on Dec. 29, 2007, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

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.

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment writer at The Undefeated. She can act out every episode of the U.S version of "The Office," she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.