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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Grisham's 'Pizza' worth a taste

John Grisham is known mainly for his best-selling legal thrillers. But a few years ago, he wrote a short novel called 'Bleachers' about a high school football coach in a small town.

Now he has returned to sports with another slim volume called 'Playing For Pizza' that's definitely worth reading. I enjoyed it more than some of his legal novels.

It's basically about a journeyman third-string NFL quarterback for the Cleveland Browns who, because of injuries, gets into an AFC Championship Game between Cleveland and Denver played in Cleveland. I won't go into it here, but he manages to single-handedly blow a 17-point lead in the final eight minutes. And he gets knocked out on the final play.

When he wakes up in a hospital he doesn't remember what happens. Then he sees it on TV and in the newspaper. There are people outside the hospital wanting to drag him out.

Needless to say, Cleveland doesn't want him back and his agent can't get any team to answer his calls. The only team that wants him is the Parma Panthers of Italy's NFL. The Italian pro teams can only have three Americans and Dockery's pay amounts to about 20 grand. The Italians don't get paid -- except with pizza and beer.

How the quarterback, Rick Dockery, blends in with his new team and adjusts to Italy is the gist of the story. A lot of the book is kind of an Italian travelogue and some it is a description of football game action. There's a bit of a love story thrown in. Grisham does a good job with it all.

Grisham's descriptions of Italy and the lavish dinners that Dockery attends is enough to make you want to hop on a plane and go there.


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