The author's latest novel, Playing for Pizza, is about an ex-NFL QB on a team in Italy
This is an article from the Oct. 8, 2007 issue
SI: How did you come across the subject?
Grisham: I was in Bologna, and my driver told me he played in this Italian football league. Every team can have three Americans, and the quarterback is always an American.
SI: There's a poster of Archie Manning in A Time to Kill, and you named a justice Archibald Manning in The Pelican Brief. Have you hidden other athletes?
Grisham: In The Broker the first 15 or 20 characters were all major league infielders. I don't think anyone has caught it yet.
SI: You're friends with Tony La Russa. How'd you meet?
Grisham: After he read A Painted House, which was full of Cardinals baseball, Tony invited me to throw out the Opening Day first pitch. I got there and he said, "John, Will Clark is throwing the pitch. Can you catch it?" I said, "Catching in front of 45,000 people is harder than throwing." But I got through it.
For more from John Grisham, go to SI.com/extramustard