Playing for Pizza
By John Grisham
Published by Doubleday
Copyright © 2007
In “Playing for Pizza” John Grisham has written a book that will appeal to the football fanatic as well as the reader who wants a little cultural escape.
Rick Dockery is a strong armed but fairly erratic third string quarterback who is prone to concussions and has a penchant for cheerleaders. He is 28 years old and he’s made quite a few stops in the CFL and the NFL; the latest being with the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have made it to the AFC championship game against the Denver Broncos. Late in the second half the worst case scenario occurs – the starting QB and the backup have gotten injured. Rick enters the game up 17 – 0 with a little over eleven minutes left in the fourth quarter and leaves on a stretcher after losing 21 – 17.
Shortly after the game he is cut and there isn’t a team in the league who wants to sign him. His agent can’t get him a job anywhere, except – NFL Italy. With few options, the hatred of every Cleveland Browns fan, and a possibility of a paternity suit – Italy begins to sound like a good idea. He reluctantly signs with the Parma Panthers who expects him to be the savior of a franchise that usually draws less than a thousand fans and has never been to the Italian Super Bowl.
Having never left North America Rick is in for quite the culture shock. It is a good shock though, one filled with great food, great wine, beautiful women, and eccentric and passionate Italians. Rick will realize that in Italy they actually play football the right way; they play hard with heart and pride. They have to love the game because most of them are playing for pizza and Beer. Will he ever want to leave?
“Playing for Pizza” is a huge departure from John Grisham’s usual fair of legal thrillers. It is a nice change up and it is well written. And whether it was intended or not, I think it is an accurate commentary on the state of sports today in America and worldwide. We don’t play for the love of the game and team anymore; we play for money and we take our sports way to seriously. People need to get back to playing games for fun, for pride, and for pizza!