Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
From the book jacket – Book on CD edition;
“Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game against Denver, to the surprise and dismay of virtually everyone, Rick actually got into the game. With a 17-point lead and just minutes to go, Rick provided what was arguably the worst single performance in a history of the NFL. Overnight he became a national laughingstock and, of course was immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by other teams.
But all Rick knows is football, and he insists that his agent, Arnie, find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds Arnie, finally locates just such a team and informs Rick that, miraculously, he can in fact now be a starting quarterback – for the mighty Panthers of Parma, Italy.
Yes, Italians do play American football, to one degree or another, and the Parma Panthers desperately want a former NFL player – any former NFL play – at their helm. So Rick reluctantly agrees to play for the Panthers – at least until a better offer comes along – and heads off to Italy. He knows nothing about Parma, has never been to Europe and doesn’t speak or understand a word of Italian. To say that Italy holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery, would be something of an understatement.”
This book was not like Grisham’s other crime thrillers, or his other football story The Bleachers, it did remind me slightly of his light hearted, Skipping Christmas.
I am not what you would consider a huge football fan, but I know the difference between a touch down and a home run, ;-) or even a field goal. I enjoy going to the local High School games; I know the kids and I can yell encouragement for them. I know enough to understand most of Grisham’s football game descriptions, and there were a lot of them, of course when one is writting fiction, you can make the games as exciting as you want. It has its funny and mildly exciting moments.
The book started with Rick Dockery as a cocky self absorbed, young athlete, who gave me the impression that he thought he was a gift to women. By the end of the book, and I don't want to spoil it but it is rather predictable, his attitude had matured.
Lots of football moments, football plays and bits of history about churches and castles in Italy. A nice easy read that doesn't require much thought and but didn't put me to sleep.
The more I think about it, the more I think that the whole idea of the book is that the members of the Parma Panthers (even though they are old, by NFL standards) are doing this just because they love to play football. They all have other jobs, and are not getting paid anything for playing. They just love to get out on the field and hit someone- and hit them hard. The point Grisham is trying to make: Do "it-" whatever your it is, just becasue you love it.
Keep reading. JB