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8.4/10 TV

Created by  John Eisendrath
Original language(s)  American English
Final episode date  11 November 2003
8.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons  1
Network  ESPN
Playmakers httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaen22aPla
Written by  John Eisendrath Michael Angeli Craig Sweeney
Awards  GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series
Cast  Omar Gooding, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Denison, Marcello Thedford, Christopher Wiehl

Espn playmakers episode 1 gameday

Playmakers is an American television series that aired on ESPN from August 26, 2003, to November 11, 2003. It depicted the lives of the Cougars, a fictional professional football team in an unidentified city. The show starred Omar Gooding, Marcello Thedford, Christopher Wiehl, Jason Matthew Smith, Russell Hornsby, and Tony Denison. The show, which ran eleven episodes, was the first original drama series created by ESPN. Although the ratings were very high for ESPN—Playmakers was the highest-rated show on the network other than its Sunday night NFL and Saturday college football games—ESPN eventually canceled the series under pressure from the National Football League, who disliked the portrayal of the negative aspects of its players' lives off the field.


Espn playmakers promo 2003


The show followed the lives of various members of an ensemble cast who portray the players and personnel on a fictional American football team, the Cougars, in a fictional league (referred to in the series as "The League") during the regular season.

Many of these segments are prefaced by an internal monologue in the format of a character narrating in his head.

Main cast

  • Omar Gooding as Demetrius Harris, #39 - A rookie running back from Colorado.
  • Marcello Thedford as Kelvin "The Buffalo" James, #60 - A fourth year offensive tackle from Oklahoma State.
  • Christopher Wiehl as Derek McConnell, #11 - A fourth year quarterback from Louisville.
  • Jason Matthew Smith as Eric Olczyk, #54 - A fifth year middle linebacker from Penn State.
  • Russell Hornsby as Leon Taylor, #33 - A ninth year running back from USC.
  • Anthony John Denison as Coach George - The head coach in his ninth season with the team.
  • Recurring cast

  • Stephen Bogaert - Phil Chambers
  • Bruce Gray - Gene Wilbanks, the team's owner
  • Phillip Jarrett - Coach Rudman
  • Karen LeBlanc - Robin Taylor, Leon's wife
  • Thea Andrews - Samantha Lovett
  • Dan Petronijevic - Thad Guerwicz, a wide receiver who is a closeted homosexual
  • Kevin Jubinville - Dr. Gatewood
  • Sasha Roiz - Stephen Lyles
  • Gabriel Hogan - Guard Dog Fredericks
  • Tacquira LaTouche - Herself
  • Frank Chiesurin - David, Guerwicz's boyfriend
  • Laura Jordan - August
  • K. C. Collins - Ron Martin
  • Themes

    Hidden Pasts: Each character has some skeletons in his closet. For instance, throughout the show Leon Taylor is portrayed as a veteran and likeable protagonist, getting the audience to sympathize with him, while at the same time they portray DH in an antagonistic light. This is interesting because both have some major problems in their past, yet Leon's seem to almost overshadow DH's. As a teenager Leon beat up his stepfather badly in retaliation to his stepfather beating his mother that the man had cranial bleeding and had to go to the hospital. It's also revealed Leon has a daughter that Robyn doesn't know about. Throughout the show we see how Leon gets physical not only with Robyn when he pushes her, but with the Coach as he slams him up against the wall, DH when he punches him, and Olcyzk when he punches him too.

    The fact that they all have a hidden past is universal, but Playmakers tries to focus on who they have become after all of it. Olcyzk has problems with his father and the death of his brother, DH grew up in a life of crime and lost both his parents, Guerrwitz is secretly homosexual and has to find ways to hide it, and Buffalo and McConnel both have kids out of wedlock whom they view as "arrangements".

    Friendship: Many of the protagonists share close bonds, including Taylor and Olcyzk, as well as DH and Buffalo.

    Strength: Being a show about football, strength is something very important to these characters. Not only physical strength, but moral strength, and emotional strength. Each character has something on their shoulders that they have to fight with. Olcyzk paralyzed Corey in a dirty hit and is having real problems communicating with his father, McConnel has to constantly pop pills and get special treatment for all the damage his body is taking, Leon must overcome his own past and problems with Robyn and the team, DH struggles to fight "the grip" of drugs and decide if he should be loyal to his gangster friends, Guerrwitz must find a way to lie to his girlfriend to hide the fact he's gay and then show moral strength when shown the video tape of when he was buying drugs for DH, Coach dealing with his cancer, as well many other scenarios.


  • In Canada, the show was broadcast on the Showcase network.
  • In Pakistan, the show is broadcast on Geo TV.
  • In the UK, the show was originally aired on FX.
  • In Denmark, the show was broadcast on the TV2 ZULU who owned the license to NFL in Denmark at the time.
  • In Australia, the show is televised on ESPN.
  • In Poland, the show is broadcast on AXN.
  • In Italy, the show is broadcast on FX.
  • In Israel, the show was broadcast on 'yesWeekend' and syndicated on 'yesSTARS'.
  • In Romania, the show is broadcast on AXN.
  • In Brazil, the show was broadcast on Fox
  • In Mexico, the show is broadcast on FX.
  • In Portugal, the show is broadcast by FX
  • Awards

  • Won AFI TV Award, Top TV Series (2003)
  • Won GLAAD Media Award, Outstanding Drama Series (2004)
  • Nominated CSC Award, Best Cinematography in TV Series (2004)
  • Nominated DGC Craft Award, Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Television Series (2004)
  • DVD

    The only season of Playmakers was released on DVD by ESPN Home Video in 2004.


    Playmakers Wikipedia