Publication date: September 2007
He's best known for his legal thrillers but my first foray into John Grisham was a non-legal thriller called Playing for Pizza, a fictional account of third-string NFL quarterback Rick Dockery.
Dockery has spent most of his NFL career as a journeyman with the most recent stop in Cleveland. The story kicks off with the AFC Championship game where the Browns are facing the Denver Broncos.
After injuries to the first and second string quarterbacks, Dockery enters the game with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and a 17 point lead. What follows is one of the worst single game performances in NFL history; Dockery turns the ball over multiple times and the Browns lose. He’s cut from the team almost immediately and instantly becomes the most vilified figure in Cleveland.
As a free-agent with no offers and pending legal trouble the NFL’s most infamous goat decides to play football in Italy in a league that amounts to nothing more than semi-pro.
Considering Grisham was the top selling author of the 90’s (with 60,742, 288 books sold) I was expecting a little more dramatic flair- this is light and fairly predictable. Nevertheless, I found it to be entertaining and fun, mostly because of the football element.
Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “the writing sometimes lapses into travel-guide and food porn, but it's invigorated by appealing characters and lively play-by-play.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.