Playing for Pizza – A Brief History

Playing for Pizza is a compelling novel written by John Grisham, a renowned American author famous for his legal thrillers. The book takes readers on an intriguing journey into the world of American football, love, and self-discovery.

The Storyline

The story revolves around Rick Dockery, an NFL quarterback who experienced the worst game of his career during the AFC Championship Game, costing his team, the Denver Broncos, a spot in the Super Bowl. After this devastating performance, Rick becomes an outcast in the football world.

With his career in ruins, and no prospects in the NFL, Rick decides to take a leap of faith and head to Parma, Italy, as their American football team’s quarterback. He embarks on a new adventure, leaving behind everything he has known, including his friends, family, and the comforts of his American lifestyle. In Italy, Rick finds himself in a whole new world, adapting to a different culture and a sport that barely exists outside of North America.

As Rick adjusts to his new life, he encounters a diverse cast of characters, including his teammates, coaches, and the locals who start to embrace American football. Through the challenges on and off the field, Rick discovers the true meaning of perseverance, friendship, and the transformative power of following one’s passion.

Awards, Criticisms, and Praise

While Playing for Pizza may not have received notable awards, it has garnered positive reviews from both critics and readers. The novel showcases Grisham’s versatility as an author, venturing into a genre distinct from his usual legal thrillers. Grisham’s storytelling prowess shines through as he crafts a heartwarming tale about second chances and finding oneself in unexpected places.

The book’s immersive football scenes and vivid descriptions of Italy’s picturesque landscapes add depth and authenticity to the narrative, capturing the readers’ attention throughout the story. Although some critics argue that the pace of the novel may be slower compared to Grisham’s legal thrillers, it serves as a refreshing change of pace, allowing readers to fully experience the charm and nuances of Italy.

Important Characters

1. Rick Dockery: The protagonist of the story and a former NFL quarterback.

2. Coach Russo: Rick’s coach in Parma, Italy, who believes in his potential.

3. Paola: A talented and spirited Italian chef who becomes Rick’s love interest.

4. Tuma and Nino: Rick’s teammates in the Italian football team, with whom he forms a close bond.

5. Francesca: Rick’s landlord and a supportive friend, helping him navigate through the challenges of living in Italy.

These characters contribute to the richness and depth of the story, each playing a vital role in Rick’s journey of self-discovery and redemption.


Playing for Pizza is a captivating novel that combines the love for American football with the allure of Italy. John Grisham masterfully weaves together a tale of resilience, friendship, and personal growth, making it an enjoyable read for both sports enthusiasts and those seeking heartwarming narratives. Dive into the pages of Playing for Pizza and join Rick Dockery on his transformative journey that transcends the boundaries of culture and sport.

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