Playing For Pizza: A Novel
Title: Playing For Pizza: A Novel
Author: John Grisham
Cut from the Cleveland Browns after the worst performance in the history of the NFL, third-stringer Rick Dockery, desperate to play football, is hired by the Panthers of Parma, Italy, to be their starting quarterback and finds himself confronted by the confusing diversity of Italian culture, language, and romance.
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 the history of the NFL. Overnight, he became a national laughingstock and, of course, was immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by all 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. Great, says Rick — for which team?
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 player — 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 — not even where it is — has never been to Europe, and doesn’t speak or understand a word of Italian.
To say that Italy — the land of opera, fine wines, extremely small cars, romance, and Football Americano — holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery would be something of an understatement.