It’s a good thing that former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is on the writing staff for the new HBO series about pro football, “Ballers.” He can help assure the authenticity.
For instance, there was a scene in which players were at a club, discussing a woman’s breasts. "That doesn't feel natural,” Mendenhall told the other writers, according to an interview with Men’s Journal. “They'd be talking about her butt."
After six seasons in the NFL — five with the Steelers and one with the Arizona Cardinals — Mendenhall quit football after the 2013 season, retiring at 26 to pursue a career as a writer.
"I wanted to be in my solitude, where I can put stuff together and create," he said. "I wanted people to know me for my work."
Having lasted twice as long as most NFL running backs, Mendenhall was fortunate to have left football never having suffered a concussion.
"I wanted to walk away the second I was ready," Mendenhall said. "I didn't want to crawl away."
He can bring his football experience to the HBO show, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a retired football player now working as a financial adviser for those still in the game. For example, there is the story of the Steelers rookie who made a huge rookie mistake, giving his credit card to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to pay for a party at the start of a season.
"Ben just did the whole thing," Mendenhall said. "One night — the rookie ended up with a $25,000 bill from the club."
Among the aspects of football that Mendenhall won’t miss is being able to express just who he is without bumping up against the need to portray a certain NFL image. Once, when the Steelers were putting together a video on him, he was asked to name his favorite book. He answered “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
"They were like, 'Yeah, we can't put that. Do you have another one?' I could have said ‘Quiet Strength’ by Tony Dungy, and it would have been acceptable. But I'm like, 'You walked up to me, asked me my favorite book, and it wasn't OK?'"
MORE RAVENS: Harbaugh poised to become Ravens' winningest coach