Playing for Pizza

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Grisham, John

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. (From the publisher.)

Discussion Guide: 

1. Do you find the book's plot "contrived" as one critic puts it—another triumph-of-the-underdog story? Or do you find it humorous and face-paced as others have said? Could it be both?

2. One reviewer refers to it as a fable? What might that mean? In other words, what is a fable, and what elements of it fable can be found in Playing for Pizza?

3. Do you feel the descriptions of Italian culture add to or detract from the the story?

(Questions by LitLovers.)