“The Franchise” by Peter Gent
Football (American), professional, fiction, crime
June 28, 2011 (digital publication) – originally published 1983
4 of 5 stars (very good)
While professional football is the most popular sport in the United States, there are always rumors about a darker side to the game and the business such as gambling, organized crime, performance enhancing drugs, and corruption. All of these topics and more are addressed in this dark novel written by Peter Gent.
While Gent is more known for his other football novel “North Dallas Forty”, this one is well-written and leaves no stone unturned in the brief history of the fictional Texas Pistols franchise. Everything about the franchise, from how it was awarded to Cyrus Chandler, to the public financing of a new domed stadium to becoming Super Bowl champions in only its fifth year of existence, is explored and questioned in the book.
The main character around which the franchise revolves is not Chandler nor the coach or general manager, but quarterback Taylor Rusk. Following the coach from college to the expansion Pistols, Rusk soon discovers the true nature of the business of running the Pistols and makes sure that he gets what he deserves, especially his desire for a Super Bowl championship. During this time, he becomes involved with Chandler’s daughter Wendy and their relationship is just as complicated as the business of the franchise.
There are connections to organized crime and gambling, and as the Pistols improve on the field and the money involved grows exponentially, the danger for Taylor, Wendy and some other players grows as well. There is a lot of blood and death in the book as some people meet untimely deaths. The ulterior motives of so many people, some of whom the reader would not expect, makes the story very dark.
There is some football scenes and action, especially when the Pistols face Denver in the Super Bowl, but they are not very numerous and are secondary to the main story of Taylor and his personal mission to unearth the diabolical nature of the business of professional football.
While I was hoping for more football and less death than what was written, I felt that this was a very enjoyable book. While football fans will enjoy this book, readers who enjoy crime novels in the style of James McElroy will also want to read this book.
I wish to thank Open Road Media for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I skim?
No – there were so many twists and turns in this book that it was important to absorb every word.
Pace of the story:
This book was somewhat slow paced, especially toward the middle, as there were many side characters and stories around the main story of Taylor that required careful reading. By the end of the story, however, I felt that the extra time was worth the effort.
Ebook (Epub )