This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)
|Created by||John Eisendrath|
|Written by||John Eisendrath|
Jason Matthew Smith
Anthony John Denison
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||11|
|Executive producers||John Eisendrath|
|Running time||43-47 minutes|
|Production companies||Thanksgiving Day|
Orly Adelson Productions
|Release||August 26 –|
November 11, 2003
Playmakers is an American drama television series created by John Eisendrath that aired on ESPN from August 26 to November 11, 2003. It depicts the lives of the Cougars, a fictional professional football team in an unidentified city. The show stars 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.
The show follows 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.
Cast and characters
- 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 Mike George - The head coach in his ninth season with the team.
- Stephen Bogaert - Phil Chambers, Team Equipment Manager
- Bruce Gray - Gene Wilbanks, the team's owner
- Phillip Jarrett - Coach Rudman, Defensive Coordinator and close friend of Coach George
- Karen LeBlanc - Robin Taylor, Leon's wife
- Thea Andrews - Samantha Lovett, reporter who presumably shows a love interest for Leon Taylor.
- Dan Petronijevic - Thad Guerwicz, a wide receiver who is a closeted gay man
- Kevin Jubinville - Dr. Gatewood, The team Physician
- Sasha Roiz - Stephen Lyles, Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator
- Gabriel Hogan - Guard Dog Fredericks
- Tacquira LaTouche - Herself
- Frank Chiesurin - David, Guerwictz's boyfriend
- Laura Jordan - August, Guerwictz's girlfriend and later fiancé to publicly cover up his homosexuality
- K. C. Collins - Ron Martin, a rookie Wide Receiver for the Cougars.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|01||"Game Day"||Scott Brazil||John Eisendrath||August 26, 2003|
|The Cougars are 2–3 and it's six hours to kickoff. Veteran running back Leon Taylor, back from injured reserve, plans to retake the starting role from Demetrius Harris. "D.H." will not slow down for anyone. Linebacker Eric Olczyk can't get over his hit that paralyzed a player and Coach George is depending on a psychiatrist to get Olczyk's head back in the game. Fresh from a night of partying, DH and offensive lineman Kelvin "Buffalo" James are late heading to the stadium. At game time, it's unclear who will take the field.|
|02||"The Piss Man"||T.J. Scott||John Eisendrath||September 2, 2003|
|The league drug-testing official visits the Cougars in the second episode of Playmakers, and DH finds out that he's on the list. Offensive lineman "Guard Dog" Fredericks tempts Leon with a way to get his mojo back. Olczyk continues to struggle with the ramifications of the devastating hit he made. Speaking of pain, quarterback Derek McConnell sucks down anti-inflammatories like candy. The team doctor is concerned about McConnell's health. It's all part of the effort to keep personal problems from interfering with the game. Guard Dog gets caught and DH goes through a terrible procedure, involving injecting clean urine into his own bladder, to not get caught.|
|03||"The Choice"||Brad Turner||Stephen Hootstein||September 9, 2003|
|Two of the Cougars are tackling some big decisions. A man is shot outside a nightclub by DH's friend Cal and he is forced to decide where his loyalties lie — with the team or with his posse. Meanwhile, Leon gets a chance to be traded to another team, but his wife, Robin, isn't sold on the idea of uprooting their lives. Their marriage begins to suffer.|
|04||"The Choice Part II"||Bruce McDonald||Peter Egan||September 16, 2003|
|The Cougars' team owner, Gene Wilbanks, pressures DH to change his statement about the shooting at the nightclub after new evidence surfaces. Meanwhile, Olczyk meets and pursues a romantic relationship with Beth, who has surprise news about his father. The rift grows between Leon and Robin, after he refuses to get counseling.|
|05||"Halftime"||John Fawcett||Edwin Eisendrath||September 23, 2003|
|The Cougars have been ravaged in the first half. They are plagued with injuries. Coach George and the medical staff must patch up the pieces for the second half. Leon faces a potentially career-ending knee injury in which a player missed a block, resulting in Leon's injury. As Leon is awaiting the results from the X-ray on his knee, he realizes that Robin spent the night at Eric's place. The argument escalates into Leon punching Olczyk in the face several times. They make amends after clarifying their earlier discussion. Wide receiver Thad Guerwitcz (Dan Petronijevic) gives DH his Saint Christopher medal in an attempt to help him begin leaving his habit behind, and recites the Lord's Prayer before the team returns to the field.|
|06||"Man in Motion"||Terry Ingram||Michael Angeli||September 30, 2003|
|Coach George lectures the team about selling "the fake"; football is all about deception. Speaking of deception, DH's drug abuse comes to a head when Wilbanks sends him to detox. Viewers learn Guerwitcz's closely guarded secret. Television reporter Samantha Lovett begins to dig up dirt about a domestic abuse rumor involving Leon. McConnell arranges a night out for the boys. Olczyk's romantic interest in Beth resurfaces.|
|07||"Talk Radio"||Ken Girotti||Charles D. Holland||October 7, 2003|
|Leon and Robin's decision to go public with their domestic abuse incident leads to legal problems for Leon and a possible suspension. Guerwitcz struggles to maintain a double life. DH must make a charity appearance to cheer up a terminally ill young boy. Coach George finally sees a doctor. McConnell treads on dangerous ground with Wilbanks' daughter.|
|08||"Down and Distance"||John Bell||Craig Sweeny||October 14, 2003|
|Olczyk prepares to face his nemesis, Luther Hawkins, the league's star quarterback who routinely scrambles his way past linebackers to rushing touchdowns. Leon tries to resolve his legal issues to continue playing on the team. Coach George gets his test results while one of McConnell's romantic interludes comes back to haunt him. Guerwitcz struggles with whether to tell his teammates he is gay.|
|09||"The Outing"||Chris Grismer||Peter Egan, Stephen Hootsein and Craig Sweeny||October 28, 2003|
|Guerwitcz makes an attempt to dodge a rumor that one of the players is gay by asking August to marry him. But his partner David (Frank Chiesurin) has had enough and outs him to the team, putting Guerwitcz's future with the Cougars in question. Meanwhile, tensions build between Olczyk and Leon over Olczyk's in-season contract negotiations.|
|10||"Tenth of a Second"||Stephen Williams||Michael Angeli||November 4, 2003|
|Leon learns that Wilbanks is not renewing his contract, so he puts himself through a combination of athletic drills to prove to Coach George that he's still got it. DH's reunion with his older brother, Big E (rapper Snoop Dogg), leads to trouble when Big E learns the truth about Cal's crime.|
|11||"Week 17"||T.J. Scott||John Eisendrath||November 11, 2003|
|Leon plans for retirement by auditioning for a sportscaster job. Buffalo's weight issues affect his chances of playing. Now that DH is back on top, how far can he flaunt his playmaker ways? After Olczyk invites Beth to move in, he must decide how to handle the surprise of Jenna's pregnancy.|
- 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)
- Sandomir, Richard (February 5, 2004). "PRO FOOTBALL; Citing N.F.L., ESPN Cancels 'Playmakers'". New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Movie/TV helmets Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine