The ongoing issues of social justice and the seedier side of college recruiting were once again major themes in Episode 8 of HBO’s “BALLERS” last night. The episode opens with NCAA officials visiting the high school QB prospect who Spencer Strasmore, played by DWAYNE JOHNSON, is trying to guide toward USC as part of an effort to help secure a lucrative media-rights deal. Strasmore then visits the NCAA HQ in Indianapolis, which devolves into a very contentious meeting, with Strasmore telling the NCAA execs his relationship with the recruit is as a “family friend.” Strasmore states that he offers the student advice so he is “not exploited and f**ked over by a bunch of rich, white guys who don’t give a s**t about him.” Strasmore: “This is a corrupt organization that has been rotting from the inside out for decades.” The NCAA then decided to rule the prospect ineligible, putting the deal with USC in jeopardy.
ON BENDED KNEE: Fictional Rams GM Charles Greane, played by OMAR BENSON MILLER, had just signed his friend, Ricky Jerrett, played by JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON, as a WR in free agency, but things got complicated after last episode, when Jerrett posted a questionable tweet about race relations. Greane is forced to ask the Rams team president, played by KEVIN DURAND, for more time. The team president said, “In this climate, we can’t afford anymore distractions. We’ve already got that goddamn kneeling nightmare that never goes away.” Greane talks with Jerrett about the tweets and his outspoken stance and is eventually swayed by Jerrett’s impassioned ideals. Greane goes back to the team president and tells him the team is not going to cut him, but instead “back him and his right to speak up for his beliefs.” Greane: “There’s a tide happening in this country, sir, and we can either ride on top of it or get swept up under it.” Greane also proposed setting up a “team-sponsored fund that fights social inequality and injustice" in L.A., with Jerrett as the “face” of it.
- Members of the skateboarding group ILLEGAL CIVILIZATION made another cameo in Episode 8, making an extreme video of crashes, injuries and ultimately cool skateboarding stunts, along with “Nike SB” logo as they look to pitch Nike execs. Ravens LB TERRELL SUGGS, who has made a few cameos on the show in past seasons, also appeared in the video.