Comparing Ballers to Entourage is an easy thing to do. They share many members of the same creative team, go behind-the-scenes of the lives of the rich and famous, and have cameos galore. What Entourage was to actors is what Ballers has become for athletes, more specifically football players. Not only does the main cast include former athletes like John David Washington (Denzel’s son) and Dwayne Johnson (he counts!), but each episode is littered with pros. The list will only grow in season 3 as two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and more join the roster. Ahead of Sunday’s premiere, see the biggest ballers to appear on the HBO comedy.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson
If you’re going to be a show called Ballers about NFL players, then you better come out the gate with some legit ballers for credibility’s sake. And that’s exactly what the series did in its very first episode as Pro Bowlers Brown and Jackson set the stage for more young and flashy stars to get drafted onto the show’s roster.
Former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula and running back Larry Csonka
In the pilot, Ricky (Washington) found out that signing with Miami meant getting the approval of Lone Survivor director Peter Berg as Coach Berg (yes, really) and, more importantly, Dolphins royalty in Shula and Csonka, the coach and running back for the only NFL team to ever go undefeated. Csonka has continued to appear on the series as a member of the Dolphins staff.
Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor
On Ballers, Johnson plays Spencer Strasmore, but let’s be honest, he’s basically playing Jason Taylor. Legendary Dolphins linebacker? Check. From Pennsylvania? Check. Bald? Check. Is a tall and attractive man? Check. Well, instead of suing for identity theft, the newest Hall of Famer settled for a cameo in the season 2 premiere.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
The always talkative and outspoken former Defensive Player of the Year has used that personality to become a recurring player on the series. He started season 2 with an on-camera fight with Spencer (Johnson) and ended it by hooking up with a woman at Spencer’s house. Now that’s a full circle arc.
Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton
It’s not just Miami football players who are making their way onto Ballers. Arguably the current biggest star in Miami sports lent a helping hand in season 1 when Spencer was trying to make amends with a man whose career he ended.
Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki
In a world of football and towering men, the former No. 1 female tennis player in the world popped up in season 2 as a client of Spncer’s rival Andre (Andy Garcia).
Miami Dolphins lineman Ndamukong Suh
The first two seasons of Ballers seemed to have one rule: If you’re a pro athlete who plays or lives in Miami, then you’re required to guest star. Season 2 started with Spencer riding the high of helping his new client Suh open a fancy restaurant, but the All-Pro was soon poached by Andre, beginning the battle that would be the season’s driving force.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman
Over the last year, Julian Edelman scored the two things that all NFL stars aspire to: Winning a Super Bowl and appearing on Ballers. And considering the season 2 finale suggested a future in New England for Ricky (Washington), there’s room for an Edelman return and the inevitable/how-has-it-not-happened-yet Rob Gronkowski cameo.
Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George
Since retiring in 2005, the Heisman trophy winner has transitioned into acting with guest spots on NCIS: Los Angeles and Shooter, as well as starring in Chicago on Broadway. In the season 2 finale, George showed off his dramatic chops as a fictional version of himself who had suffered great financial and personal loss at the hands of Spencer.
Former Denver Broncos lineman Mark Schlereth
Ballers is set in the real world of the NFL. Yes, the main characters are fictional, but for the most part, it’s the league we know and love. Yet, the biggest flaw in the world of the show is that somehow former ESPNer and three-time Super Bowl champion Schlereth is their Mel Kiper Jr. and the person Travis (Adam Aalderks) needs to impress to raise his draft stock. He might not be the biggest name, but he’s scored the biggest role.