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John Grisham

America's Favorite Storyteller

Playing for Pizza

Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game against Denver, 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, of course, was immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by all other teams.

But all Rick knows is football, and he insists that his agent, Arnie, find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds Arnie finally locates just such a team and informs Rick that, miraculously, he can in fact now be a starting quarterback. Great, says Rick—for which team?

The mighty Panthers of Parma, Italy.

Yes, Italians do play American football, to one degree or another, and the Parma Panthers desperately want a former NFL player—any former NFL player—at their helm. So Rick reluctantly agrees to play for the Panthers—at least until a better offer comes along—and heads off to Italy. He knows nothing about Parma—not even where it is—has never been to Europe, and doesn’t speak or understand a word of Italian.

To say that Italy—the land of opera, fine wines, extremely small cars, romance, and Football Americano— holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery would be something of an understatement.

Read an Excerpt




“Fans of John Grisham live for his legal thrillers, but now and then he serves up something unexpected. That’s exactly what he does, with great success, in Playing for Pizza.” USA Today

“Enthralling.” People

“Score another one for Grisham…This is a fish-out-of-water tale that perfectly suits his strengths as a storyteller.” USA Today

“A light-hearted story of football, food and love.” Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Football in Italy? Who knew? Grisham means to have a sweet time with this story of a fallen NFL quarterback. And he does.” Daily News (New York)

“Delightfully comic…a deeply satisfying story.” The Boston Globe

“Charming…the author’s love letter to Italy.” Publishers Weekly