Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game, 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 was immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by all other teams. But all Rick knows is football, and he insists that his agent find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds, Rick finally gets a job—as the starting quarterback for the Mighty Panthers . . . of Parma, Italy. The Parma Panthers desperately want a former NFL player—any former NFL player—at their helm. And now they’ve got Rick, who knows nothing about Parma (not even where it is) and doesn’t speak a word of Italian. To say that Italy—the land of fine wines, extremely small cars, and football americano—holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery would be something of an understatement. . . .
Playing for Pizza: A Q&A with John Grisham Q:
American football in Italy seems like an unlikely subject for a John Grisham novel. What was the inspiration for Playing for Pizza
Three years ago when I was in Bologna researching "The Broker", I discovered American football. One of my guides in the area played football for the Bologna Warriors for 10 years. I couldn't believe that American football actually existed there, but the more I heard about it the more intrigued I became. Q:
There is some great football writing in this novel. What kind of research was involved in capturing how this American institution is played in small town Italy? A:
The only way to research the book was to go to Parma and watch a game. The coach is an American who played at Illinois State, and he proved to be extremely valuable. I met many of the Italian players and the story simply unfolded. Q:
Speaking of research, you write lovingly of Italian food and wine in this book. What's your idea of the perfect Italian meal? A:
First course: prosicutto and melon; second course: stuffed tortellini; third course: roasted stuffed capon, all served with a great Barolo wine. Q:
Without giving away too much of the plot, your protagonist falls in love by the novel's end. Did you know when you started writing that Rick would get the girl? A:
Of course. Q:
You have a new legal thriller coming in January 2008. Can you give us any hints about what to expect? A:
I really don't like to talk about a book until it's finished. Sorry. But it will not be another work of non-fiction, nor will it be about football. Lots of lawyers in the next one.