Pro-football as viewed from the superboxes—entirely raunchy, fitfully funny.
Suddenly, Jack Molloy owns an NFL team. Now a lot of people would like that. Some would kill for it, in fact. But Jack isn’t one of them. To begin with, he’s happy where he is—in Las Vegas, working for Billy Grace, a big-time gambler and casino owner. Jack is Billy’s “Jammer,” meaning he’s the go-to guy whenever there’s a jam involving a particularly valued client (read: high roller). But Jack’s discomfort on learning that the New York Hawks belongs to him goes beyond the need to uproot. It goes to the heart of his loving but complex relationship with his father. They quarreled five years ago. They haven’t spoken since. And now Big Tim is dead of a heart attack, his team left not to Jack’s sycophantic siblings Ken and Babs, but, unexpectedly, to himself: an extremely prodigal son who’d gone on record disclaiming any interest. While still dubious about this unlooked-for legacy, Jack becomes the center of a blistering firestorm. Temporarily at least, everyone hates him—Ken and Babs, his headline-hungry head coach, the majority of Hawk players, the sexy female president of the organization, and, most annoyingly, that assortment of rapacious billionaires who would do just about anything to lift the burden of Jack’s franchise from him. It’s this last that steels his will. Metaphorically, then, it becomes fourth and inches, seconds left on the clock, and the Lombardi Trophy within view and glittering. Time to bump and run for it.
New York Daily News columnist Lupica, acclaimed as a sportswriter, remains a step slow as a novelist (Jump, 1995, etc.) Some savvy inside stuff, but the comedy is strained, the characters either flat or derivative, and you really have to love the game to stay four quarters.