Reasoner’s football novel follows the conflict between an NFL veteran and the hotshot rookie brought in to potentially replace him.
When asked what he does for a living, Matt Ridgeway replies, “I kick ass. And on a good day, I take names, too”—that is, he is the placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts, a position he has held for 20 years. (It should be noted that while NFL team names are used, and reference is made to the Colts’ former home in Baltimore as well as their actual current training facilities on West 56th Street in Indianapolis, the players, coaches and owners are all fictional.) Given his career and track record, he is taken aback when the Colts draft a new kicker, Clay Dinsmore, who played for Purdue, in the second round of the draft. Ridgeway’s agent wants him to cash out. His wife wants him to retire. But, capricious as the gods of football are, Ridgeway isn’t quite ready to give up the gridiron. He thinks back to the start of his career and an integral piece of advice that his mentor gave him and decides to play the same role in the rookie’s life. Ridgeway’s narration works for the tale; the short chapters, however, interrupt momentum. The tale is largely set in the present, but Ridgeway spends time recalling his youth and early career; by and large, these vignettes are integrated well. While Reasoner also avoids overly technical jargon, readers unfamiliar with football may still find the descriptions of game play hard to follow.
Reasoner’s obvious familiarity with and fondness for the game make this novel a good bet for anyone who can’t wait for the official season kickoff.