An undersized middle school football player inherits an NFL team.
When his father—whom Ryan’s never met and whose name he doesn’t even know—dies, he leaves Ryan the Dallas Cowboys. A confusing series of flashbacks and exposition about Ryan’s relationship with football sets the story up, including his mother’s initial refusal to let him play and the odd position he occupied on the team as a player so small that his coaches purposefully prevented him from experiencing the contact side of the sport. This rough beginning gives way to a character-driven story. Ryan battles urges to exploit his new status, with the help of a mother determined to teach him to be a good person and two wonderful best friends (a friendly giant of a teammate and a pretty, fantasy-football whiz) who like Ryan for himself, not because he’s the newly famous kid owner. But bullies on his team still target Ryan, and Ryan’s wicked stepmother schemes to snatch the Cowboys for her own son—the star player of the rival middle school’s team. When Ryan isn’t dealing with power plays from lawyers or the Cowboys’ feuding general manager and coach, he’s trying to earn a shot at quarterback; despite his not-spectacular arm, Ryan’s ability to read defense makes him a natural for a spread offense. All storylines culminate in a big game, and it’s a good one.
A wish-fulfillment fantasy pleasingly complicated by real emotional journeys. (Fiction. 8-14)