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New HBO Series Reportedly Uses Team Names and Logos Without NFL Consent


No, it isn’t Hard Knocks. The acclaimed pay television channel Home Box Office is set to hit viewers with another highly anticipated series, but this time they could be in some hot water with a very powerful enemy. Ballers, set to air its debut episode on June 21, follows a former football player turned financial agent (played by Dwayne Johnson), who witnesses first-hand the highs and lows of professional sporting stardom.

A recent report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, however, suggests that the program has been using official NFL team names and logos without the – all together now – express written consent of the National Football League. The pilot episode reportedly features the unaltered uniforms of both the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, as well as a scene in a conference room featuring the official Green Bay Packers logo.

It’s highly likely that the NFL is simply seeking some sort of remuneration in exchange for the unauthorized dissemination of its protected trademarks. It’s no secret that the league is highly protective of its brand, with EA’s Madden video game franchise being the only notable example of an external company having authority to use the NFL’s official license. Films such as The Replacements and Any Given Sunday, and even other video game titles such as 2K’s upcoming Montana 16, have not enjoyed that same authority.

Speaking of brand protection, the league certainly won’t like what the show has to say about its representatives. The first episode features a fictional NFL star who has sex in a bathroom cubicle with a woman he just met, then proceeds to beat up a fan who complains about the player occupying said cubicle.

One can’t help but be reminded of Playmakers, a similarly fictional football drama produced by ESPN, which was dumped after direct pressure from the NFL over how the show portrayed its athletes. In the interests of creative expression, here’s hoping Ballers doesn’t suffer the same fate.

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