08 March 2011

14. Playing For Pizza

Playing For Pizza - John Grisham

There I was standing a the bookshelves in the thrift store with my Dad. There were lots of books by the same old authors. We had a discussion about how some authors wrote the same stories over and over with different characters in different locations. Sometimes the stories were good, but how could you know which ones were good and which were just pumped out to put something on the shelves to sell?

There are plenty of authors like this. I pointed to a few on the shelves. John Grisham was one. I know he has written a ton of legal thrillers. The Firm, The Client, The Pelican Brief, Runaway Jury. They are all good, but what about the others of the same ilk? How would I know?

Dad picked up Playing For Pizza and handed it to me. He said it was nothing like the others. If I wanted to read John Grisham and read something different I should read this one.

I did not buy it that day, but I also did not forget that he recommended it. I found the unabridged audio CD version and decided to go with it. I listen to audio books driving to and from work. I found it better for my disposition than listening to talk radio. (Mike will understand)

The book, oh yeah, this is a review of the book. It is not a legal thriller. This is a sports book. Rick Dockery is a third string NFL quarterback who has played for eight teams in his six year career. An unfortunate string of events happen that bring him into the AFC championship game while playing for Cleveland. Rick blows a 17 point lead with only minutes left in the game and then suffers a concussion that hospitalizes him.

He becomes the laughing stock of the league as is run out of town and the NFL. Nobody will hire Rick. All he knows is football. He still wants to play. He thinks he can still contribute, but nobody will give him that chance.

His agent finds him a starting quarterback spot on an Italian team. He is to earn a few thousand euros each month, but most of the team plays because they enjoy the game and make no money. They are judges and bricklayers and policement and teachers and accountants and businessmen and auto mechanics and just regular guys who play American football because they love the game.

The story is interesting. We travel along with Rick as he sheds his self-centered American ways and learns to enjoy the game and become part of a real team. A team that plays to win because they want to win the game, not to make more money or pad their statistics.

The tour of Italy and Italian culture was fun.

Thanks Dad. You were right. The book was different and it was fun.

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