PLAYING FOR PIZZA
This novel opens with Rick Dockery the main character and the third quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, lying on hospital bed with traumatic head injuries received in a football match. In the deciding game when his team was leading, then with a few minutes to go, Rick gave the worst performance in NFL history, due to which his team lost. His agent Arnie visits and tells him about Browns dropping him from the team. Rick being erratic, no other team wanted him. Some fans had come to the hospital, created a scene, and threatened Rick and Arnie. The Doctor advises Rick for change of job. Arnie also tells Rick that he should quit football. But Rick knows only football. Arnie was finding it difficult to get another job for Rick. Arnie phones Sam Russo suggesting to take Rick for playing in Italy, since Sam is also badly in need of a quarterback esp. from America. Arnie phones Rick and gives details of playing for Parma Panthers in Parma city, in Italy. Rick agrees to play for Panthers temporarily, till he gets a better job. Rick does not know Parma or Italian, and has never been to Europe, but there are several surprises for him in Italy. Then Rick arrives in Milan near Parma. Studio Lanfranchi pitch in Parma has been leased to Panthers for football. Sam shows the field and gives details about football in Italy to Rick. He saw the details of practice, the team room, his locker, game jerseys and pants etc. and learns about Italian culture. Sam says that Bergamo is the team to beat. But, while playing in Parma, Rick was looking for pay check. In the first practice session, coach Russo calls all players and introduces Rick. Rick tells his actual position and achievements. Later he tries to use Fiat car, but finds difficulty and parks it. Then he goes to a bar Bruno. Having been invited, Rick goes for dinner to the house of the judge Franco, who is also a footballer. Sam and his wife were also present. Then there is season’s opening game with Bandits from Naples, which is won by Panthers. Rick goes to the opera, Otello program. He is impressed with Ballini’s performance in it. After some time, Rick spots Ballini in a restaurant sitting with a man. Later during parking, he sees her going and calls her by her name. She stops and talks to him. They go to a pub for a drink. She tells him about his boy friend Carletto. Next day they meet for lunch. Then Rick goes to a pub, where he dances with Beverly and later they go to her apartment. Rick and Ballini meet for lunch again. Some reader of Cleveland Post reads Panthers web site and learns about Rick’s performance in Italy. He comes to Parma. He prepares his story telling about Rick and sends to Cleveland. Arnie tells him about the ugly news about Rick in Cleveland Post.
Through internet, Rick’s team mates are also reading about Rick’s problems in USA earlier. Sam tells the team to ignore the news from Cleveland Post. It was considered cruel to follow Rick up to Italy. Later Cray gave a good report praising Rick for the next match. Arnie phones Rick that Saskatchewan wants him with a good offer. But Rick says no. While waiting in the Café, Rick meets another girl Livvy. Later Rick gets a call from Livvy and they meet for dinner. Rick gets a phone from Rat Mullins about the new offer given by Arnie. Rick agrees to fly and meet Rat for discussions. He comes to Cleveland. Rick gives a punch to Cray, due to which Cray is lying on the floor. Then he takes the return flight back to Rome. For another game won by Panthers, Sam congratulates all players. Later Livvy comes with luggage, and they go from station to his apartment. Livvy’s parents were in for a divorce trial. Rick and Livvy leave Parma for Ancona. During a match between Panthers and Bergamo, there is some violence, but Panthers win. Rick returns to Parma for a long practice, while Livvy stays at his apartment. Then there is a match with mighty Bologna team, in which Panthers defeat them. Livvy and Rick drive to Venice and stay in a hotel. Two investigators come to see Rick in night, looking for Livvy, in connection with her parent’s divorce. Also Livvy was now on an expired visa. Then there is Super bowl match between Panthers of Parma and Bergamo, expecting a huge gate. Charles Cray was also present and he made notes on his laptop. Panthers won their first Super bowl trophy. There were celebrations with all admirers. Rick was a favourite for photos. Rick has had injuries before and now. Rick was given pain killers. He returned to the hotel. But now he wants to travel to beach with Livvy, with feelings of satisfaction. This novel depicts that one odd poor performance should not dishearten anybody. He should try again, may be under some other situations, and success may come to him. Problems are always there in life, and they should not over power us. This book is considered interesting and useful for players, coaches, media persons and all others in general.