According To Greg Jennings, HBO’s ‘Ballers’ Is Actually Pretty Realistic
Former NFL wide receiver Greg Jennings hasn't even been officially retired for an entire day yet, but he's already signed on with USA Today's For The Win to chat weekly about the HBO show "Ballers." Their stated goal is to "break down what's real and what's fake," and FTW's Nina Mandell kicked off the first of their discussions by getting right to it.
Mandell broached topics from the show, which stars Dwyane Johnson as a retired NFL player-turned-agent, and asked Jennings just how realistic they are to the life of a real NFL player. As it turns out, "Ballers" isn't nearly as dramatized as you might think.
When talking about the idea of players being more trusting of former players when it comes to handling their money, Jennings said that it's very realistic in the sense that you'd trust a former player with whom you had a relationship over trusting somebody you'd never met before.
Interestingly, Jennings cited the scene in which Jarrett sits on the couch in free agency and discusses every team with his agent as being the show's most on-the-nose depiction of real NFL life.
"...when I was free agent, literally with my agent and even with my siblings and my wife I put out this map and we placed magnets on locations and teams that I could see myself playing for and I looked at their quarterback situation, their front office, all these different scenarios whether they had play-makers like myself. So that is absolutely reality. Out of the things we mentioned probably the most realistic thing that happened."
I can see it now: Jennings standing in front of the map on the wall, trying to casually knock the magnets from Tampa Bay and Cleveland without his agent noticing.
He also had some pretty insightful things to say on the topic of Johnson's character's issue with pain pills.
"Absolutely that is very realistic. Guys wanting to alleviate pain, not only pain but thoughts that they can’t get out of their head, just different things that they’re experiencing both mentally and physically. In their mind, the only way to resolve their issues is by taking pain medication, is by becoming dependent upon on something to relieve them of whatever it is they’re experiencing."
That's a very bold, definitive quote on the kind of mental and physical issues that players endure post-retirement. it makes you wonder how much of that was said with CTE in mind.
Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Jennings played coy on more "controversial" topics like Ricky Jarrett sleeping with his teammates' mother, and Terrell Suggs fictional beef with Johnson's character; but he shied away from saying that he believes those situations to be completely fictional. He chose carefully crafted phrases like "I cant really speak on that" and "I don’t know how realistic that is because I’m one of those guys, I kinda got along with everybody." But he never offers a flat out denial, so you can read into that however you'd like.
Jennings' assessment seems to indicate that the show definitely isn't far-fetched; at least so far. There may be embellishments, and it seems like perhaps the parties aren't always that glamorous, but the overall tone and the business end of the players' lives draws upon real stories and experiences.
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