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BOOK REVIEW: PLAYING FOR PIZZA
BY JOHN GRISHAM

We hope you enjoy this book review by Cy Hilterman.



Rick Dockery was an NFL quarterback, or so it said in newspapers that dared mention his name! Rick had attempted passes while under contract, usually a short contract, for several NFL teams until he was finally relegated to third-string and the last possible quarterback any team wanted to use. He loved the game but his fame was from his interceptions, not the completions, which hurt many teams. The book opens with Rick in a hospital bed after being knocked senseless in his last game. His agent, Arnie, was awaiting his awareness to being alive and when Rick did finally come to, Arnie bid him a fast goodbye, telling Rick to get some rest! Arnie was tired of teams calling him telling him not to peddle Rick to them. They all knew him too well.

After regaining some of his wellness, Rick contacted Arnie requesting a chance at playing for another team. Poor Arnie. Rick kept bothering Arnie as he got more impatient regarding getting back to work and making some money. No NFL team would touch Rick. At last Arnie came up with a position for Rick in Parma, Italy playing for their NFL Italy League. Parma, Italy? Where they make Parmesan Cheese? When told of the tiny salary he would earn especially compared to the actual NFL, Rick balked but Arnie said that was all he could get for Rick. Risk had visions of being a star in this Italian league, making out with cheerleaders, and living a life of luxury that, in his mind, he had earned.

Rick’s arrival in Parma was a real culture shock. No big hotels to live in, no cheerleaders, no fancy restaurants, in fact, no luxury at all and, worst of all, only three players on the entire team were paid while the others played for the fun and thrill of the game. While Rick was making $2,000.00 a month plus room and board, this was not what he envisioned. He found a few women that he “worked” on and they came and went in his Italian life. The practices were brutal for an NFL quarterback. Other team positions had to work very hard in the NFL but not the quarterbacks. They could take it easy. Sure they could—but not in NFL Italy.

He got to know the players that were on the Parma Panthers who worked in all types of jobs regularly. Come practice and game day, these players were generally 100% hard guts for Parma through pain and injuries and all types of playing surfaces and field sizes that differed throughout the league. The Panthers started their season well but went downhill when they played against the teams they knew they could beat easily. Bergamo had been the Italian Super Bowl champs for so many years that no one remembered when they hadn’t won it. Of course the Panthers wanted in the worst way to win that Super Bowl and beat that great Bergamo team.

Playing for Pizza is a great variation of Grisham’s normal books. He can take almost any subject and, with his knowledge and smarts, can turn it into a great story containing humor, mystery, love, and almost any other subject into a great read. I look forward to his next serious book but this one very much entertained me; most of John Grisham’s fans should enjoy it too.

REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, CY HILTERMAN


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