Home Pittsburgh Sports Steelers Still Ballin’

Still Ballin’

For many, making it to the NFL is a dream; a far-fetched, lofty goal that only a small fraction of those who ever touch a football reach. Those who do reach it are envied and worshiped for achieving this dream.

Rashard Mendenhall realized this dream when the Pittsburgh Steelers made him the 23rd selection of the 2008 NFL Draft, but some six years later and a Lombardi Trophy later, Mendenhall surprisingly retired and walked away from the game that helped turn him into a household name.

He traded a football for a pen, a field for a book, and pursued a different dream: being a writer.

“From the days that you start playing sports, it’s just a kind-of countdown for when it can end, and when it’s going to end. When you get older and when you can’t do the same things, it’s just a really fast ticking clock of when it’s over,” Mendenhall said. “Where I am now, what I’ve stepped into now, it’s so much of a place to go and grow and evolve into, and it’s enjoyable.”

Recently, Mendenhall has taken a leading role as a writer on HBO’s new hit summer show, “Ballers.”

The show follows the day-to-day interactions of several fictional NFL players. Centered on its lead character, financial planner Spencer Strasmore, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the show tackles a whole slew of issues in the league, such as financial planning, contract negotiations, head injuries, and of course, partying.

“A lot of the situations and the characters come from experiences,” Mendenahll said. “Not just from me, but guys like Terrell Suggs, who actually spent some time in our room, and other players that have come in and out, like Brandon Jacobs, Steven Jackson, different guys that have kind-of come in and out of the room.”

One of the more notable plotlines that has worked its way to the forefront of one of the main characters, Ricky Jerret (John David Washington), is his romantic involvment with a teammate’s mother. The two clash and the latter pulls a series of pranks on Jerret in retaliation.

”Not just in sports, that’s a line anywhere,” Mendenhall said. “That’s a no-no offense, in a corporate office, in a hospital, anywhere you are, that is the kind-of line that is obviously crossed. To play those ethics and that line in the lives of these characters is something that is definitely interesting.”

While the show has been quite well received thus far, this is just the beginning of things for Mendenhall. The former 1,000-yard rusher says that he has been working on a lot of other various projects to get his voice out there, including novels and continuing to publish to his blog on the Huffington Post.

“At this point now, everything that I do is because I enjoy it,” Mendenhall said. “I am passionate about it, be it with Ballers, be it with any kind of project that I have going forward, and it’s just been really enjoyable.”

Mendenhall idolizes and strives to be what he calls a “modern-day Khalil Gibran.” Gibran was a 20th century Lebanese-American writer who has novels, poetry and various other forms of expression published.

“I believe there is so much to do, to experience, to grow, there is so much space to spread my wings and grow wherever it is,” Mendenahll said. “At the same time, I can look back at my career and smile at it…I can smile back it and say, ‘Man I made a lot happen.’ I enjoyed my team and it was a lot of fun, I learned from it and its complete for me. There is not a part of it I would take back and I can smile at it and go about my life because this is where I am at now.”

Previous articlePirates battle past Cubs 7-5
Next articlePNC Park proving to be a tough out for the top arms in the league