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Created byJohn Eisendrath
Written byJohn Eisendrath
Michael Angeli
Craig Sweeney
StarringOmar Gooding
Marcello Thedford
Christopher Wiehl
Jason Matthew Smith
Russell Hornsby
Anthony John Denison
ComposerLou Natalie
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes11
Executive producersJohn Eisendrath
Micheal Angeli
Craig Sweeney
Orly Adelson
Running time43-47 minutes
Production companiesThanksgiving Day
Imagine Television
Orly Adelson Productions
Touchstone Television
Original release
ReleaseAugust 26 (2003-08-26) –
November 11, 2003 (2003-11-11)

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.[1]


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"[2]) 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[edit]




  • -- Madziak
  • 11 Derek McConnell
  •  6 Phillips

Running backs

  • -- Bradford FB
  • 39 Demetrius Harris
  • 29 Beiderman FB
  • 33 Leon Taylor
  • -- Thaysen FB

Wide receivers

  • -- Connon
  • 86 Davies
  • 83 Thad Guerwitcz
  • 87 Lawrence
  • 82 Martin
  • -- Pearson

Tight ends

  • 89 Belling
  • -- Ireson
  • 85 Valentine
Offensive linemen
  • -- Curtis RG
  • -- Earle LT
  • -- Federov RT
  • 65 "Guard Dog" Fredericks RG
  • 80 Harvey LG
  • -- Henton RG
  • 79 Inglis C
  • 60 Kelvin "The Buffalo" James LT
  • -- Katz C
  • -- Moore C
  • -- Katz C
  • 68 Sands RT
  • -- Wallace LG
  • -- Wilson LT
  • 70 Wright RT

Defensive linemen

  • 73 Brophy RE
  • -- Carter DT
  • 75 Downey DT
  • -- Flynn LE
  • -- Gerstein DT
  • -- Green DT
  • 78 Hart DT
  • -- Hupponen RE
  • -- Krauskopf LE
  • -- Maltais RE
  • 66 Rock LE
  • -- Simons DT
  • -- Edwards OLB
  • -- Egan MLB
  • -- Ferguson OLB
  • -- Hootstein OLB
  • 51 Trent King OLB
  • -- Knight OLB
  • 59 Mooney MLB
  • 30 Nelson OLB
  • 54 Eric Olczyk MLB

Defensive backs

  • 27 Adams SS
  • -- Angeli FS
  • 43 Ray Barnes CB
  • 22 Carter SS
  • -- Clarke CB
  •  9 Gibson FS
  • -- Grazian CB
  • -- Holland SS
  • -- Oliver CB
  • -- Peters CB
  • 38 Rodriguez FS

Special teams

  • 10 Mendes K
  • 15 O’Shae P
Unknown Positions
  • 67 Harvey
  • 57 Johnson
  • 26 Rodgers
  • 31 Stark
  • 71 Williams


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
01"Game Day"Scott BrazilJohn EisendrathAugust 26, 2003 (2003-08-26)
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. ScottJohn EisendrathSeptember 2, 2003 (2003-09-02)
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 TurnerStephen HootsteinSeptember 9, 2003 (2003-09-09)
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 McDonaldPeter EganSeptember 16, 2003 (2003-09-16)
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 FawcettEdwin EisendrathSeptember 23, 2003 (2003-09-23)
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 IngramMichael AngeliSeptember 30, 2003 (2003-09-30)
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 GirottiCharles D. HollandOctober 7, 2003 (2003-10-07)
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 BellCraig SweenyOctober 14, 2003 (2003-10-14)
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 GrismerPeter Egan, Stephen Hootsein and Craig SweenyOctober 28, 2003 (2003-10-28)
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 WilliamsMichael AngeliNovember 4, 2003 (2003-11-04)
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. ScottJohn EisendrathNovember 11, 2003 (2003-11-11)
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.


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


  • 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)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sandomir, Richard (February 5, 2004). "PRO FOOTBALL; Citing N.F.L., ESPN Cancels 'Playmakers'". New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  2. ^ Movie/TV helmets Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]