Magazine article Newsweek

'Playmakers' Lands in the End Zone

Magazine article Newsweek

'Playmakers' Lands in the End Zone

Article excerpt

Byline: MARC PEYSER

It was a critical hit and a ratings winner, so ESPN has canceled its football drama "Playmakers." The show had vexed ESPN since it debuted in August, when the NFL complained the program dwelled too much on fictive players' drug abuse, extramarital sex, homophobia--the stuff you read about in the sports pages but which somehow looks worse on TV. ESPN insists it didn't sacrifice its hit show (and its first scripted series) because the NFL might not renew its contract with the network. "If we had caved to the NFL, we would not have launched the series in the first place," says ESPN's Mark Shapiro. "We did not have a gun to our head." But Shapiro admits that complaints from team owners and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue didn't help. "We're not in the business of antagonizing our partners, and clearly we've done that here," Shapiro says. "Had we not antagonized the NFL so deeply, most likely we would have brought this series back. …

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